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Blaming banks for damaging the environment – Not Bitcoin

Blaming banks for damaging the environment - Not Bitcoin

Op-Ed

Another mainstream media has issued a warning about the dangers that bitcoins pose to the environment. We have heard these too simplistic arguments countless times before. But even if we accept that the energy consumption of Bitcoin is substantial, the figure is still important for traditional financial institutions, whose carbon footprint is colossal.

Read also: South Africa wants to register cryptographic service providers

& # 39; Bitcoin Is Oil & # 39;

The journalist, former bitcoin miner and current cryptic partner Ocuis, Ethan Lou, wrote a Guardian article this week, "One other thing you might not know about bitcoin: it's killing the planet." In the article, he claims that "everyone who dabbles in it [bitcoin] they will be reborn as enemies of the environmental movement "just like those involved in the oil industry." He continues to compare bitcoins with black gold because they both suffered incidents and manipulations experienced by important players, adding:

It is not this day, but a day may come when the big oil shrinks or changes, becoming less a target for environmentalists. Bitcoin is the natural next enemy.

The article adds that the closure of mining sites due to concerns related to electricity is a further cause for alarm and that businesses will continue to fight for their right to mine, with & # 39; inevitable increase in the adoption of cryptocurrency. These companies will continue to be compared for their behavior, says the author. "While scholars and media have long seen the use of mining electricity, 2018 marked the year when environmental and progressive publications began to alarm" , writes Lou.

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Why not blame the banks, then?

Like most of Bitcoin's hits, the Guardian's effort was one-sided. It is true that the extraction of cryptocurrencies uses a lot of electricity. And it is certainly true that environmentalists have been targeting Bitcoin several times recently. But if we want to have an intelligent debate, we must consider all the facts. Attacking cryptocurrencies for their presumed environmental impact is misleading, especially when banks are the main culprits of energy interests.

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Dr. Katrina M. Kelly-Pitou PhD, Research Associate in Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, clarified in her article "Stop worrying about how much energy uses bitcoin" where she claimed that "the conversation around bitcoin and energy has been simplified ", adding:

Banking consumes about 100 terrawatt of energy in the year. If bitcoin technology was more than 100 times its current market, it would still be only 2% of all energy consumption.

In addition to considering how much energy is used by banks, it is important to consider which type of energy is used. Bitcoin extraction typically uses energy that is exceeding demand and that would otherwise be wasted. In principle it does not use the dirty base like coal. The banks, on the other hand, have channeled billions of dollars into the fossil fuel industry – with JP Morgan Chase criticized for the financing of tar sands and coal mining. Kelly-Pitou further uses Iceland, where bitcoin mining is becoming popular, for example. The country relies on almost 100% of renewable energy for its production, and therefore its energy consumption is relatively benign from an environmental point of view. Rather than targeting cryptocurrency, the media should focus on key industrial sectors, including the banking sector, whose dependence on fossil fuels should be replaced by something more environmentally friendly.

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It is ironic that bitcoin, a truly useful and transformative financial system, has been targeted for not being green enough when corrupt institutions that exert a hegemony over the global financial system are complicit in exacerbating climate change. Bitcoin, by comparison, leaves only footprints on the planet earth.

What is your opinion on how bitcoin is portrayed in mainstream media? Do you think its impact on the environment is overstated? Share your thoughts on the topic in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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