Bitcoin’s Big Climate Footprint

Bitcoin mining operation in Iceland Photo: Marco Krohn Wiki CC

CNBC Anchor Andrew Ross Sorkin, who also writes for the NY Times, was out yesterday with a thought-provoking piece about the huge amount of carbon emitted due to energy-intensive Bitcoin “mining.”  Studies show that Bitcoin’s business has a bigger carbon footprint than countries like, say, Argentina or New Zealand.  That’s not chump change when it comes to climate change.  As businesses try to show that they care about decreasing their footprints or are required to disclose them, will they spurn cryptocurrencies because they use too much energy?  Seems unlikely– they’re only becoming more popular.   So what can we do?

Well first, we can hold them accountable, and that has already begun.  Jack Dorsey of Twitter and now Square fame said in a statement, “We believe that cryptocurrency will eventually be powered completely by clean power, eliminating its carbon footprint and driving adoption of renewables globally,” which is good since his company pledged to be net-zero on carbon emissions by 2030. Bitcoin users are also looking at ways to “batch” transactions users on something called a Lightning Network, that would use less power to process transactions.  Ironically, the big banks may be the most interested in pushing Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to be greener as a way to drop a dime on its competition.

Read the whole piece here — it’s worth your time.

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