Technology is progressing towards digitizing every prospect in the panoramic view of the world. As exciting and spectacular this tends to seem in the outlook, it has proved to be exceptionally complicated and sometimes even worth regretting due to the consequences of the inception of technology. A booming sector of the digital world, the virtual coins of ‘Bitcoins’ have once again proved this formula right. According to several reports conducted by various institutes, Bitcoins are currently popping out as a significant agent to environmental degradation.

Cryptocurrency has successfully emerged as a side product of digital cash without a dot. Howbeit it’s time to flip to the other end of the book. Reports from a Bitcoin analyst Alex de Vries reported that the estimated annual energy consumption has increased from 25 terawatt hours to 30TWh in one week in early November of 2017 because of the rush of Bitcoins. This figure was on par with the energy consumption of the entire country of Morocco and 0.7% of total energy demand in the US. This report also suggested that one Bitcoin transaction uses energy that is equivalent to the energy produced by an entire household in one week. To add to this statement is the fact that there are about 300,000 Bitcoins transactions every day. So imagine the amount of energy that is consumed in the production of Bitcoins.

Not just energy consumption, but the amount of electricity Bitcoins use is also phenomenally high. Researchers have also estimated that if the sudden boom for bitcoins persists, the energy necessary for bitcoin network may touch over 7.7 gigawatts of energy, equivalent to the electricity required to power Austria. These energy demands end up polluting air and water. They emit greenhouse gases that hold responsibility for climate change in the world. However questioned by critics for the reliability of the study, the journal Joule predicted that bitcoins might consume up to 0.5% of the world’s total energy supply.

There is a specific reason behind the estimation of these shocking reports. The answer is ‘Bitcoin mining.’


Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

What is Bitcoin Mining?

In simplistic terms, bitcoin mining is wasting the most of electricity by doing absurd arithmetic quintillions of times of a second. The ‘miners’ make complex calculations on their computers which valid the process of transactions in bitcoins. The process of mining takes up a terrific amount of energy in computers. Carbon emissions caused by mining is the devastating factor of the mining.  De Vries analyzed a coal-powered bitcoin machine in Mongolia to find out the effect of this complicated protocol. The results will leave you shocking. Statistics reported that one mine produces 8,000 to 13,000 kg CO2 emissions per transaction and 24,000-40,000 kg of CO2 per hour. An average passenger vehicle bears about 411 grams of CO2 emission per mile. This figure indicates that one hour of Bitcoin mining corresponds to a distance cover of 100,000 miles by a car.

The destruction caused till today is just a foreword to the humongous impact bitcoins will cast on the environment if cautious action is not taken to reduce the environmental harm caused by the mining process.


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