In light of today’s perspective on bitcoin (BTC) excessive energy consumption, it may come as a surprise to hear that the international NGO Greenpeace was one of its previous followers.
In 2014, the organization set up a hub to accept Bitcoin donations, but that enthusiasm has now subsided as there is widespread concern about the climatic risk of an energy disruption of resilient currencies like Bitcoin. News broke last week that Greenpeace decided to close the plant and leave it “unsustainable” during a period of accelerating global warming.
Much of this concern is exacerbated by the fact that the unique cryptocurrency market this year has been accompanied by a corresponding increase in energy demand: higher prices have doubled the power consumption of the Bitcoin network by March this year, according to a recent study by Vrieux University of Amsterdam. …
In a correspondence with Cointelegraph, Greenpeace USA media director Travis Nichols said that as Bitcoin’s environmental profile became more apparent to the organization, Greenpeace had already decided to close the facility, even though the amount of BTC donations it received was not large. Nichols put the weight of Bitcoin’s energy into context in the broader perspective of the global digital infrastructure, writing:
“The huge and ever-increasing amount of energy required to run Bitcoin is largely due to the special technology used to support this digital currency, but it also points to the biggest challenge for the future of the Internet. As online services grow and become more sophisticated, the demand for computing power will continue to grow. More energy will be needed in the coming years. ”
Nichols noted that only a fifth of the electricity used in the world’s data centers currently comes from renewable sources – something that needs to change quickly as the Internet expands and plays a role in supporting economic growth.
To counter Bitcoin’s growing reputation as a “dirty currency”, many in the industry have tried to draw attention to the fact that energy needs continue to overwhelm them in the global banking system and even in the gold market. A recent report from Galaxy Digital disputes these cumulative numbers to show that bitcoin is still less used than both, and also highlights that banking industry data on energy consumption is much less transparent than data available for bitcoin.
However, non-industry analysts face this by focusing on relative numbers rather than aggregate. A blog post from the London School of Economics released today states that “every bitcoin transaction uses the same amount of energy as 778,988 credit card transactions” and has “the same carbon footprint as processing 1,218,903 transactions.” …
Nichols’ primary goal was for the Internet, like all infrastructure, to be powered by “clean energy sources that help, not hinder, the critical challenges of combating climate change.” Those who defend Bitcoin’s potential in the perceived incentive to adopt renewables must quickly substantiate their case, or they risk leaving the veteran cryptocurrency lagging when the world gets into climate policy qualifications.