Are you considering becoming a bitcoin miner? You should think twice if you are seriously concerned about the environment. There are a lot of reasons that mining bitcoins might not be conducive to a greener lifestyle.
You may not think that bitcoin mining is that bad for the environment. Unfortunately, the statistics show a totally different story. An article from MIT Technology Review pointed out that bitcoin mining accounts for 0.2% of global electricity consumption.
Bitcoin Mining Has Overlooked Environmental Consequences
Some experts fear that the consequences of bitcoin mining will get worse as the price of bitcoin falls. The problem is escalated by the fact that many bitcoin farmers are located in areas with poor IT infrastructures, because accessing the Internet is not very energy efficient there.
Some experts cast shade on these conclusions. The American Chemical Society wrote a study for ACS that showed that the environmental impact could be lower than thought, but still raised concerns about it.
Why is Bitcoin Mining a Concern?
Bitcoin mining is the process of authenticating transactions and verifying them on the blockchain. Ultimately, mining is a race to solve a mathematical equation using computer power. The first person – or computer – to solve the equation gets to be the one to verify the payment and add the block to the chain. In return, the miner will receive a bitcoin reward of their own.
In the past, Bitcoin mining was a lucrative gig with people making significant sums from their efforts. Today, the average miner is not making the same amounts and mass mining farms have sprung up to eat up the market. Many of these mining farms are located where electricity is much cheaper because of the power needed to make them operate. Yet, this doesn’t make their environmental footprint any less damaging.
There are some arguments that the whole process is not helping environmental issues – but the discussion is more complex than that.
How Bitcoin Mining Is Good for the Environment
There are many ways that cryptocurrency can be good for the planet.
#1 – No Need for Energy-Consuming Branches
The use of crypto wallets means everyone is their own bank and therefore paper statements and bank branches are not needed. These don’t detract from the convenience of having a bank as the best wallets provide all the key information you would get from a branch. The Luno Bitcoin wallet is one of the most trusted around and is just as informative as your current banking app.
#2 – Mining Farms to Reduce Harmful Gasses
Many oil producers are operating in remote locations and in the process of obtaining oil, they collect gasses as a byproduct. These gasses can come in useful but due to the remoteness of their operating locations and the cost of infrastructure to transport it to other places where they would come in useful, these harmful gasses are released into the atmosphere.
Bitcoin mining can eradicate the problem because these computers can operate from these gasses and be positioned alongside oil extraction sites without the need for human input. By using the gasses to power mining farms on-site, the farms themselves do not require an abundance of electricity and these harmful gasses are not released.
The Bad News and Ways to Improve
These ways that bitcoin mining can reduce the carbon footprint ado not detract from the fact that mining consumes large amounts of energy and requires more energy to keep the computers cool while operating at full power.
Experts are suggesting that mining can become more sustainable if the equipment used to mine is improved and if renewable energy systems are used in conjunction with mining. One core problem is the location of mining farms are often in hot or humid places, such as areas of China. Relocating to cooler climates would improve the environmental impact of mining – but that may be a dream rather than a reality.
Bitcoin Mining Has Consequences for Our Environmental Footprint but there is a Silver Lining
There are a number of benefits of bitcoins, but mining them can be bad for the environment. The good news is that there are some positive environmental impacts as well. There are ways we can make bitcoin mining eco-friendlier as we move forward.