How Cryptocurrency Mining Impacts The Environment

You've heard these terms by now: bitcoin mining, the blockchain dogecoin cryptocurrency, is having a notable impact on the world's financial markets, but it's also affecting the environment.

digiconomist.net


Cryptocurrency is a new kind of payment network. It's largely free of regulation and transactions can be harder to trace, but this anonymity has a Price and the planet is paying it. The issue is how crypto is made in cyberspace.


It's called mining, but instead of digging for diamonds or gold, computers are digging for answers. Miners use programs to solve incredibly complicated problems, the solutions validate the cryptocurrency transaction and that validation goes into a decentralized record-keeping system called a blockchain. If you wanted to be a crypto-miner in The 2010s, your home computer might be enough to get you started today.


You need a bunch of specialized very powerful computers, they're known as mining rigs, and they use a stunning amount of electricity. Take bitcoin, for example, researchers at the University of Cambridge say that bitcoin uses more electricity annually than all of Argentina. According to the website digiconomist, the carbon footprint of one bitcoin Transaction is comparable to more than two million visa transactions, and that one transaction uses as much power as the average American household uses in about two months now.


There are more environmentally friendly methods of doing this, but there's only so much renewable energy to go around by one estimate: bitcoin uses between 40 and 75 of the world's renewables that leaves less clean energy for factories, businesses, and homes. So digital currencies like bitcoin factor into the climate crisis in a very real way, no wonder it was among the topics discussed at the un climate conference in Glasgow, but now that world leaders have talked about it.

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