No, Bitcoin will not destroy our climate by 2033
Bitcoin mining is energy-intensive, but it will not destroy the planet, as stated in the new study
A new study predicts that a sharp increase in the use of bitcoins, greedy for energy, will lead to a surge in greenhouse gas emissions, dooming the world to global warming, which can go beyond the Paris agreements .
Why it matters: Bitcoins have a problem with energy, since transaction processing requires a lot of electricity. Climatologists are trying to determine the consequences of such energy use, especially if the popularity of this new currency continues to grow.
What they did: the study assumes that the use of bitcoins in 2017 released 69 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, while processing only 0.033% of non-cash transactions. They then extrapolate future emissions based on different scenarios for the growth of bitcoin use in the future.
Researchers at the University of Hawaii at Manoa found that Bitcoin may be responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, which will be enough to go beyond the pre-industrial temperature level by 2 ° C in just 11-22 years.
- According to a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, a rather large percentage of mining bitcoin goes in China and other parts of Asia, which are currently seriously dependent on burning coal in the production of electricity.
- Therefore, if Bitcoin is increasingly used as a cryptocurrency, the authors suggest, emissions will increase dramatically.
But let me. The study makes several dubious assumptions. For example, the authors suggest that the type of fuel used to generate electricity will remain the same as today.
- This assumption ignores the rapid growth in the use of renewable energy throughout the world and the gradual abandonment of CHP plants burning coal in many countries.
- They also did not take into account the likelihood that the mining of bitcoins would move to other countries, potentially moving from countries that rely heavily on coal, such as China, to countries with cleaner energy - to Iceland or the United States.
- Также, точно предсказать будущее новой технологии сложно, и многие наблюдатели ожидают, что биткоин будет чаще использоваться в качестве инвестиций, чем валюты.
What we want to say: Erik Mazanet of Northwestern University, an energy modeling specialist, called the new study “fundamentally incorrect”:
Although it is extremely difficult to predict the growing popularity of such currencies as Bitcoin, we know that the global electric power sector is refusing coal, and that information technologies - including mining devices - are becoming more and more energy efficient. Apparently, the authors looked at these two trends in their predictions, while insisting on an incredible increase in the popularity of cryptocurrencies, which led to bloated and dubious estimates of future carbon emissions.
In the same vein, the researcher Arman Shahabi from the National Laboratory. Lawrence Berkeley toldto the journal ThinkProgress, that in the study, scientists leave some factors unchanged, while suggesting a sharp increase in the use of bitcoins. Shahabi noted that mining "has already increased its efficiency by an order of magnitude or more over the past few years."
What we think: the high cost of energy and the impact of climate on mining Bitcoins are real concerns, but the quality of specific predictions depends on the assumptions on which they are based, and these assumptions — the growing popularity of technology, energy sources, application efficiency — are extremely difficult to predict. .