The Bitcoin is by far the most popular cryptocurrency in the world. Cryptocurrencies were primarily designed to facilitate faster and more secure financial transactions over the web. They were meant to make the world a better place. However, there are worrying studies that show that the rise of Bitcoin alone could increase the world’s global warming levels by two degrees in a span of just 2 decades.
This is because this increase in the use of Bitcoin places huge demands on the world’s energy system. As a result, astronomical amounts of carbon emissions are given off, which consequently cause a global warming effect. It is inevitable that the continued growth of Bitcoin would lead to a two-degree increase in global warming, which is definitely not good news for the environment.
Where do Bitcoins come from?
Put simply, Bitcoins are born when people mine them online with their computers. They are very expensive to produce. Computers mine Bitcoins by solving complex math equations, and by doing so they suck up a lot of electricity. The amount of electricity used to mine a single Bitcoin is relatively equivalent to the amount of power a single house uses for months. Plus, Bitcoins can only be 21 million in total meaning it takes a lot of time and energy to produce just a single unit.
Scientists have done a comparison of the number of emissions by mining computers to that of transportation, housing, and food, which are considered the main contributors to climate change. It has been determined that cryptocurrency mining produces enough emissions to warrant inclusion to the list.
Because the Bitcoin business is volatile, predicting its future is tricky. No one can tell where its value will stand at a few years from now. It has also become so competitive now that sometimes, the amount of money it takes to produce it is more than its actual value.
The more difficult the equation a computer solves, the more energy it uses. For this reason, the value of a Bitcoin could increase over time as equations become more complex. However, things could also take an opposite twist when mining technology improves in efficiency in the future resulting in lower prices and less energy consumption.
How it accelerates Global Warming.
Since more complicated equations consume more energy, with the increasing complexity of Bitcoin equations, more energy is being spent to produce fewer coins. As more and more computing power is delegated to Bitcoin mining, the energy being released compounds upon itself, accelerating the effects of global warming.
Many crypto companies and blockchain based organizations are looking into this environmental issue with an intention of coming up with a solution. They want to develop a way of sustainable supply chains and decarbonizing energy systems. This has proven to be a hard task since the potential energy uptake and carbon emissions given off from mining bitcoins are directly against the vision of the technology.
Is there a solution to this Bitcoin issue?
So far, only speculations have arisen. It is dangerous to assume that bitcoin mining will be significantly more efficient in the future. It is a 50:50 scenario because no one really can tell how much more powerful computers of the next decade will be, and if they will be able to handle the equations much faster. Therefore, achieving this speculated efficiency is something that may or may not happen, and that puts all of us in a dangerous position.
One of the main proposal being put forward is the regulation of crypto mining throughout the world. Yes, cryptocurrency is untraceable, but governments should take charge and regulate mining them because of their high energy demands- says Day Translations
Another solution being proposed is currency-based. The fact that bitcoin is costly in terms of the computing power and work needed for running is what makes it undefeated. An obvious solution, therefore, is to keep improving the existing protocol to further improve efficiencies.
And everyday innovators are taking up this task to do just that. Plus, computer chips also continue to advance by the day, improving the efficiency of computation in relation to power intake. However, the main downside of this approach is as long as there is money to be made, more miners will continue flocking the Bitcoin scene and in return, more power will be consumed just as before.
Other cryptocurrencies and blockchain platforms have also experimented with alternative protocols which consume way less energy. Such algorithms could potentially eliminate the energy consuming process of mining while at the same time recording transactions. The fact that a number of brilliant minds in the industry have realized the problem and are actively working on such algorithms shows a bright future.
Bitcoin is not the only crypto out in the world today. It is just the most popular one when compared to the rest. There are plenty of more crypto types that require far less energy and less complex equations to solve. In its current state, Bitcoin mining is slowly but surely proving harmful to the environment. If the trend continues, and if a solution is not found soon, the effects will start to be felt within as little as a decade. All stakeholders should strive to come up with solutions that will help mitigate the overall accelerating effects that Bitcoin mining is having on global warming.