As the environmental costs of mining encryption become known, professionals outweigh the disadvantages?


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As the environmental costs of mining encryption become known, professionals outweigh the disadvantages?


According to a research recently published, the energy needed to "extract" the value of a US dollar from the four major cryptocurrencies is more than twice the amount required to extract the value of one dollar in copper, gold or platinum. The study, "Quantification of energy and carbon costs for mineral cryptocurrencies", was carried out by researchers at the Oak Ridge Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio and published in the journal Nature Sustainability.

The researchers examined publicly available data and data mining hardware attributes to determine the power requirements for the four major cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Monero. The team then used market prices to calculate the energy consumed in the production of a US cryptocurrency dollar between January 1, 2016 and June 30, 2018. Finally, they applied country-specific CO2 emissions factors. to the energy demands of each cryptocurrency.

The research team has discovered that the value of a dollar of bitcoins requires about 17 million joules of energy for my respect to the 4, 5 and 7 million joules needed to extract copper, gold and platinum: a joule is a & # 39 unit of energy equivalent to the work required to produce one watt of power for one second.

Ethereum, Litecoin and Monero arrived at 7, 7 and 14 million joules. Overall, all four cryptocurrencies have done well compared to aluminum, which requires 122 million joules to extract the one-dollar raw ore. To determine this measure, the team compared the extraction energy of the four cryptocurrencies with the extraction of real metals.

"In 2018, bitcoin is on track to consume more energy than Denmark," said Max Krause, a researcher at the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education and lead author of the study. Krause has declared to the AFP that the world is dealing with "a completely new sector that consumes more energy in the year than in many countries". Krause and his team estimate that the extraction of all 4 cryptocurrencies is responsible for 3-15 million tons of CO2 around the world.

Although the team recognizes that "decentralized cryptocurrencies represent a potentially revolutionary new technology", they warn that according to current trends "energy requirements will continue to rise".

Other research and its critics

The new research echoes previous studies on cryptocurrency and energy consumption. In November 2017, The Guardian reported that the energy consumption of the Bitcoin network was equivalent to that of the Irish nation. Another January 2018 report noted that Bitcoin mining produced the same annual carbon emissions as a million transatlantic flights. More recently, the journal Nature Climate Change published a study that claims that the extraction of Bitcoin will lead to an increase in global temperatures of 2 ° C over the next two decades.

Critics of this research have rightly pointed out the many variables involved in understanding the use of energy from cryptocurrency extraction. For example, the extraction of Bitcoin depends on several factors, including the value of Bitcoin, the cost of electricity, the efficiency of mining equipment and government regulation.

A recent Bloomberg analysis attempts to address these concerns. Bloomberg notes that, although a report has shown that Bitcoin miners consume 8.27 terawatt-hours per year, this is "less than one-eighth of that used by US data centers and only about 0.21 percent of the total consumption of the United States ".

When these numbers are compared with the estimated consumption of money and coins, a different picture emerges. "The global production of money and coins consumes about 11 terawatt hours in the year, while the extraction of gold burns the equivalent of 132 terawatt hours", reports Bloomberg. "And this does not include armored trucks, bank vault, security systems, etc. So in the right context, the bitcoin is positively green."

Bloomberg's piece also examines the environmental cost of running data centers and how the use of electricity has flattened, despite the continued growth of such high data centers for electrical costs. Despite warnings about the environmental impact and electricity costs of Google's data centers, improved efficiency in the form of improved cooling technology and energy management has helped to ease part of the impact.

Looking at the future

As the company is struggling with the growth of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, some important questions must be asked.

Firstly, for the community of cryptocurrency, if the evidence actually shows that the extraction of cryptocurrency and, in particular, the work trial algorithm, has serious environmental consequences, what is the next plan? 39; action?

Does this mean the end of the cryptocurrency in general? Surely not.

Does this mean that ideas like Proof of Work need to be reworked or combined with new technologies? More than probably.

Members of the cryptocurrency space must be willing to answer these questions and ask others how they present themselves. We should not ignore the costs of new technologies simply because the benefits include financial success.

For the general public, what happens if the final result of investing in more cryptocurrencies and blockchain leads to a general improvement in the quality of life all over the world? There are a number of new technologies that could be abandoned (smartphones for one) to help the environment and reduce the carbon footprint, but what is the cost of such a drastic decision? In the end, the potential environmental costs are worth the price of having a functional sound money that can be sent to a relatively free level across borders without the permission of central parties like the government?

These are questions that should be considered by the masses who are benefiting from the growth of cryptocurrency.

It is a fairly safe assumption that the cryptocurrency market will provide technological innovation and further developments in so-called "green mining".

However, the push to mining will continue until the consensus view is that the disadvantages of technology outweigh the potential benefits. If the cryptocurrency community aims to continue making profits through mining currencies, it has an incentive to become more efficient and reduce its environmental footprint. This means that ideas like Bitcoin Green and Lightning Network (among others) will need to be explored if this new technology wants to reach its true potential. need to be explored if there is

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