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Bitcoin's real problem is pollution

According to a recent study, the cryptocurrency market has the same emissions as New Zealand

Bitcoin's real problem is pollution According to a recent study, the cryptocurrency market has the same emissions as New Zealand

When we talk about emissions of carbon dioxide and other harmful substances into the atmosphere, we always think of industrial plants, intensive farming and discharges of chemicals into rivers. On the contrary, the digital world, being mostly incorporeal, seems to pose a solution to carbon emissions and the waste of raw materials but physics tells us that nothing is incorporeal and in fact, according to a study by Technische Universität München, a crypto-currency like Bitcoin produced in 2019 up to 22 million tons of Co2 per year – an amount comparable to the annual emissions of a city like Las Vegas. The amount of these emissions has literally exploded upwards in the last two years, and has put many economic and national authorities in front of the issue of pollution caused by BitCoins.

One will ask: "How is it possible that a virtual currency can produce Co2?" The answer is electricity. In fact, electricity is the only form in which Bitcoin exists physically and the entire cryptocurrency system requires a constant supply of electricity to remain functioning. According to the Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index available on the website Digiconomist, in fact, the energy consumption of cryptocurrency has increased this year to 77 terawatts per hour which, in simpler terms, is identical to the energy consumption of the entire country of Chile. Carbon emissions, on the other hand, are identical to those of New Zealand – a quantity that, reduced to a single transaction, is equivalent to keeping a PC on by watching YouTube videos for 52,668 hours in a row, or about six years of uninterrupted stream and consumes the same electricity that an American home unit consumes in 22 days.

According to the model developed by Digiconomist, which is perhaps today the most sophisticated public tool to track the ecological weight of Bitcoin, it is also possible to predict future consumption. For example, the model predicts that BitCoin miners will spend 60% of their revenues on electricity and will only stop when energy costs. According to Smart Energy International, 39% of the world's BitCoin mining uses renewable energy while a more worrying 61% use non-renewable energy, derived for example from coal or other fossil fuels. But the data should not scandalize: mining for gold mining alone consumes fifty times as much as BitCoin mining, so much so that according to the Earthworks association, about 20 tons of waste are generated to produce a single wedding ring. A possible solution to the BitCoin consumption problem could already exist: it is a matter of changing security protocols from proof-of-work systems, which requires the activation of complicated algorithms that confirm the legitimacy of the blockchain and consume more and more energy, to proof-of-stake systems that instead require each user to prove the possession of cryptocurrency and therefore would cut consumption.