In a new report published by CoinShares on Monday, the firm estimated that the Bitcoin (BTC) mining network emitted 42 megatons, or Mt, (1Mt = 1 million tons) of carbon dioxide, or CO2, in 2021. In context, the number amounts to less than 0.08% of the world’s total emissions of 49,360 Mts of CO2 in the same year. CoinShares came to such figures using a variety of estimates regarding the efficiency of the Bitcoin network, its energy use, hardware, etc., on a global scale. As a result, it may not reflect the actual CO2 emission of the network. But the report’s estimate of worldwide CO2 emission is mainly in-line with industry figures.
In addition, the report estimates the total electricity consumption of the Bitcoin network at 89 terawatt-hours (TWh), which is far lower than that of estimates put forth by an institution such as the University of Cambridge. It is especially the case, given that the Bitcoin network’s hash rate has reached new all-time highs. That said, electricity consumption alone is not a true contextual measure of the Bitcoin network’s environmental impact. This is because global CO2 emissions come from many aspects, such as private automobiles, for starters.
The report sheds light on a growing debate regarding the environmental impact of Bitcoin mining. For example, influencers such as Elon Musk have rescinded their adoption of Bitcoin for business use in the past due to energy use concerns. The CoinShares report suggests that approximately 60% of Bitcoin’s mining activity comes from fossil fuels, which is on the far lower bound of industry’s estimate, as some have put the metric at a mere 25%. However, if the report’s claims are accurate, it shows Bitcoin’s overall environmental impact to be negligible from a worldwide standpoint.
Even Wikipedia fell for the environmental FUD surrounding Proof-Of-Work mining. A proposal to “stop accepting cryptocurrency donations” is currently under discussion. It starts with the same very thin arguments that the whole mainstream media irresponsibly uses. However, it gets better and more interesting. In general, it’s amazing to see both sides of the argument unfolding. Even though there might be some information suppression going on.
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Well do our best to summarize the whole thing, but people interested in the topic should take time to read it all. It’s full of twists and turns. The most amazing thing about the document is that real people wrote it. Wikipedia editors are not a sample of the world’s population, but, they’re heterogeneous enough to make the discussion interesting.
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Wikipedia Falls For The Environmental FUD
The original proposal poses three problems with receiving cryptocurrency donations, but, in reality, we can summarize them all in the ESG FUD category. The three points are:
“Accepting cryptocurrency signals endorsement of the cryptocurrency space.”
“Cryptocurrencies may not align with the Wikimedia Foundation’s commitment to environmental sustainability.”
“We risk damaging our reputation by participating in this.”
It’s a shame that, to try to prove their points, the original author uses a questionable source and a discredited one.
“Bitcoin and Ethereum are the two most highly-used cryptocurrencies, and are both proof-of-work, using an enormous amount of energy. You can read more about Bitcoin’s environmental impact fromColumbiaorDigiconomist.”
Counterpoint: That Data Is Compromised
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Even though it’s widely cited, an “employee of the Dutch Central Bank” posing as a neutral journalist runs Digiconomist. That fact alone disqualifies him as a credible source. However, his datais also under questionbecause “Digiconomist Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index is not being driven by real world metrics and profitability as stated in the methodology.” So, we’re dealing with an intellectually dishonest individual who’s presumably paid to attack the Bitcoin network.
For more information on this shady character, go to the section “The Digiconomist is Disinformation.”
The Columbia report is newer, but it cites outdated data and debunked studies. Like the ridiculous one that doesn’t understand how PoW scales, or even works, and irresponsibly claims that crypto-mining could raise the Earth’s temperature by two degrees. Columbia’s main source, though, is the “University of Cambridge analysis.” That same organization literally said that “There is currently little evidence suggesting that Bitcoin directly contributes to climate change.”
However, they suspiciously erased that part from their report. They changed the wording and nowtheir FAQjust contains a “radical thought experiment” in which “all this energy comes exclusively from coal.” Even under those extreme circumstances, which are far-far away from reality, the energy use would be marginal. “In this worst-case scenario, the Bitcoin network would be responsible for about 111 Mt (million metric tons) of carbon dioxide emissions1, accounting for roughly 0.35% of the world’s total yearly emissions.”
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Protecting The Process Or Information Suppression?
Under the whole thread, there’s a section called “Discussion moved from proposal section.” It contains several suppressed pro-cryptocurrencies arguments. The reason is that the accounts that made them had “no other editing records”. What do the people proposing that those opinions should be removed argue? That they “risk that both vote gaming and manipulation of discussion to introduce bias and fake “bitcoin” news.”
Coincidentally, those low-edit accounts are the ones bringing forward the information on how bogus the original poster’s sources are. Someone had to say it and they did. And the administrators removed them from the main thread. Is this really what Wikipedia is about.
Luckily, other Wikipedia contributors managed to say that “Bitcoin is therefore agreen energy stimulus, aligned with the Wikimedia Foundation’s commitment to environmental sustainability. “ Anotheruser urged “everyoneto understand more about Bitcoin as a whole package beyond its energy footprint (negligible when compared to the cost in oil and warfare of backing the US Dollar) as well as the continual exponential progress that has been made in making Bitcoin greener and greener.” Yet another one said “bitcoin core is a FLOSSproject attempting to promote monetary freedom.”
In any case, the crypto detractors trying to game the vote might have a point. Except for the ridiculous “fake “bitcoin” news” claim. The header of the discussion says, “this is not a majority vote, but instead a discussion among Wikimedia contributors”. And the administrator tells them that they can’t remove their opinions or votes. However, “an optimal RfC scenario would not actively silence any voices, but would allow community members to inform each other which participants are not community members, who may have alternative interests.” That’s fair.
What About The Votes? Is Wikipedia Banning Crypto Donations?
The vote doesn’t look good for crypto donations, but that doesn’t mean Wikipedia will ban them. At the time of writing, the “support” votes are approximately double than the “oppose” ones. Plus, roughly 150 Wikipedia persons have voted. Does this mean the ESG FUD worked and cast a shadow over the whole crypto space that will be hard to shake? Absolutely it does.
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It also means that people WANT to believe. And are not willing to accept the overwhelming evidence that points to PoW mining being a net positive for the environment.
Fortunately, Bitcoin doesn’t care. Tick tock, next block.
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