Cryptocurrency’s immense carbon footprint has been well known since early on. What to do about it is the question. Getting a good answer to that question depends in part on understanding the nature of the problem. Read below for the clarity of the explanation on this topic, and let the illustrations make it that much clearer:
Cryptocurrencies have emerged as one of the most captivating, yet head-scratching, investments in the world. They soar in value. They crash. They’ll change the world, their fans claim, by displacing traditional currencies like the dollar, rupee or ruble. They’re named after dog memes.
And in the process of simply existing, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, one of the most popular, use astonishing amounts of electricity.
We’ll explain how that works in a minute. But first, consider this: The process of creating Bitcoin to spend or trade consumes around 91 terawatt-hours of electricity annually, more than is used by Finland, a nation of about 5.5 million.
That usage, which is close to half-a-percent of all the electricity consumed in the world, has increased about tenfold in just the past five years.
So why is it so energy intensive?
For a long time, money has been thought of as something you can hold in your hand — say, a dollar bill.
Currencies like these seem like such a simple, brilliant idea. A government prints some paper and guarantees its value. Then we swap it amongst ourselves for cars, candy bars and tube socks. We can give it to whomever we want, or even destroy it.
On the internet, things can get more complicated.
Traditional kinds of money, such as those created by the United States or other governments, aren’t entirely free to be used any way you wish. Banks, credit-card networks and other middlemen can exercise control over who can use their financial networks and what they can be used for — often for good reason, to prevent money laundering and other nefarious activities. But that could also mean that if you transfer a big amount of money to someone, your bank will report it to the government even if the transfer is completely on the up-and-up…
Read the whole article here.