Written by Mohammad Sariful Islam
According to world researchers, the key causes of climate change are fossil fuels, agriculture, and industrial pollutants. However, the conversation has recently shifted to Bitcoin, specifically Bitcoin mining, which consumes a lot of energy, and the race among would-be crypto millionaires to build the most powerful mining machine produces far more electronic waste than fat bank accounts.
Cryptocurrency mining, often called crypto mining, is a method that utilizes sophisticated processing computers to validate transactions on a blockchain network. Someone with appropriate software and hardware resources may mine bitcoin, but as the market expands and costs increase, it is going to be difficult for beginners. The most real effect of mining on the environment is the energy consumption in the mining process, which is how cryptocurrencies are formed. Researchers are concerned with Bitcoin mining since the introduction of Bitcoin, through generating new units of cryptocurrency has been difficult. As currency’s supply is limited to approximately 21 million units, increasing the number of currencies means fewer units are accessible for mining, and mining a new unit will require additional processing power.
Impact of Crypto Mining on Environment,
The environmental impact of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, Ethereum is a hot topic of debate. Cryptocurrency uses a lot of electricity. That energy demand is increasing, and it now consumes as much energy annually as entire countries like Finland, Malaysia, or Sweden.
High Energy Consumption
Impact of the High level of energy consumption on the human environment is disastrous. Process of the Cryptocurrency mining need a large amount of electricity. According to the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index, the mining process consumes more energy each year than certain countries, especially the Netherlands and Pakistan. Not just mining consumes a lot of energy; a single Bitcoin transaction is expected to consume 2,292.5, kilowatt hours of electricity, which is enough to run an average US family for more than 78 days. While electricity appears to be a clean source of energy, many countries generate it using fossil fuels, thus increasing carbon levels in the atmosphere and affecting our climate negatively. In the United States, according to the University of Cambridge, contributes for approximately 35% of Bitcoin mining activity and generates 60% of its electricity using fossil fuels. According to Andrew Hatton, head of information technology at Greenpeace United Kingdom, “we are mainly powering 21st-century innovation with 19th-century energy sources.” He attributes this energy usage to the “enormous amount of data crunching” required to develop and maintain this cyber-currency, a process that consumes a significant amount of electricity. A further critical characteristic of bitcoin is its limited quantity. Thus, as the number of bitcoins mine increases, the complex arithmetic problems necessary for transactions grow harder to answer, demanding increasing energy consumption.
Apart from consuming a lot of energy, bitcoin mining also produces a lot of electronic waste (e-waste). According to Alex de Vries and Christian Stoll, cryptocurrency miners create 30,700 tonnes of electronic garbage each year. In comparison to iPhone (173g for the iPhone 13 (6.1oz)) weighs an average of 272g (9.5oz) per transaction. Miners generate revenue by creating new Bitcoins. Increase mining involves increase computer processes, which results in increase energy consumption. However, the average lifespan of Bitcoin mining machines, according to experts, is only 1.29 years. As a result, computers use in mining become outdated quickly, and a substantial amount of e-waste is generated. Researchers relate this e-waste to a country’s “small IT and telecommunications equipment” garbage. It takes a lot of energy to mine bitcoins, but it also creates a lot of technological waste (e-waste).
E-waste is a concern for a number of reasons. Firstly, certain resources used in chip manufacturing, such as quartz and silicone, are limited. Secondly, when electronic components are thrown away harmful chemicals and toxic materials flow into our ground and drinking water. finally, Bitcoin miners deploy highly specialized hardware that is difficult to reuse and quickly becomes obsolete. De Vries expects that miners’ devices will survive for approximately 18 months. This results in a great deal of electronics being utilized and quickly discarded.
Each year, mining produces around 96 million tons of carbon dioxide, which is comparable to the emissions produced by several smaller countries. Cryptocurrency mining generates more than 47 million tons of carbon dioxide each year. As of December 2021, the carbon footprint of a single cryptocurrency transaction was 102.38 kilos of CO2, which is “equivalent to 226,910 VISA transactions or 17,063 hours of YouTube watching.” Meanwhile, the electricity footprint of a single cryptocurrency transaction is about similar to the amount of energy spent by an ordinary US family during an 8.09-day period. In comparison to gold mining, bitcoin mining produces almost 15 times more quantities of CO2 than gold mining does (in dollar terms). Mining one bitcoin requires 191 tons of CO2, which is significantly higher than the quantity of CO2 required to mine the same amount of gold at the same price.
According to researchers, high levels of carbon dioxide are harmful to the planet and other living creatures. It is a natural consequence of life and is also necessary for vegetables and plants to grow. On the other hand, an excessive amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere absorbs excess energy, resulting in global temperatures rising. As a result, scientists are concerned that until the world discovers a way to effectively reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the plant will remain threatened and risk an ambiguous future. If there is a price for too much carbon dioxide, cyptrocurreny will have a hard time because it is one of the world’s biggest polluters.
As the world is getting involved in more technology-intensive systems like the metaverse, cyptrocurreny will be the ultimate solution for currency, so demand will grow higher and higher with the limited supply. Thus, mining will be more complex and harder to solve, which means it will consume more energy and produce more waste and emissions. So this is the time for us to rethink about it.
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