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The study states that only bitcoins can exceed the limits of Paris, but some experts are not in agreement

/ Ultima / 2018/10 / study-credits-bitcoin-alone-paris-limits could-out-but-some-experts-are not agreement /

A study published yesterday in the renowned scientific journal Nature warned that the energy consumption used to fuel only bitcoin transactions could send global warming to the critical danger levels specified during the 2015 Paris Agreement. The magnitude of this problem will depend on the rate of future adoption and use. of bitcoin, the newspaper said.

The problem of bitcoin energy consumption, necessary to complete the Proof of Work (PoW) challenge of cryptocurrency, has often been cited in the media as a critical weakness of person-to-person transactions.

The lead author of the paper, associate professor Camilo Mora, of the University of Hawaii department of geography and environment, has based this perspective on examples of historical rates of mass adoption of new technologies, such as credit cards and dishwashers.

Arraying the potential adoption of bitcoins against those historical rates, the study stated that "if [bitcoin’s] the adoption rate follows the widely used technologies, could create a demand for electricity able to produce enough emissions to exceed 2 ° C of global warming in a few decades ".

Reducing emissions to keep heating below 2 ° C is already considered a very difficult challenge given the growing human population and consumption, as well as a lack of political will. Then Bitcoin arrived.

Methods and accuracy

The Mora document used 2017 as the reference year for calculating the energy cost of the Bitcoin network in terms of CO2 consumption. To calculate their figure, the paper's researchers randomly chose from a list of appropriately modern bitcoin mining hardware (2017) for each extracted block, and an average of electricity consumption.

The team then tracked the countries' positions of each product block during that year and, using a formula of average CO2 emissions in each country where each PoW calculation was "likely to be resolved", a & # 39, specific CO2 rate for each block country based on average energy consumption. The addition of these calculations gave Mora a figure of 69 tonnes of CO2 consumed in 2017.

This figure is far higher than other estimates, and indeed the rate of CO2 emissions from the bitcoin network is a very controversial topic. But critically, Mora's study did not derive energy consumption assumptions from an estimated percentage of profits used to pay for electricity as it is common, but rather directly from the average consumption specifications of mining machines – circumventing one of the disagreements more controversial on this topic.

A Bitcoin Cash fan?

The paper believes that improvements in bitcoin mining hardware could mitigate the impact of mining, due to an increase in efficiency. but warns that "the reduction of the carbon footprint of Bitcoin should not be based solely on hardware yet to be developed, but include simple changes to the general system, such as adding more transactions per block or reducing the difficulty or of the time necessary to resolve the work test. "

The battle of the size of the bitcoin blocks is one of the problems that led to Bitcoin Bitcoin Cash (BCH) forks last year, with BCH opting for larger blocks. The larger blocks are equivalent to a lower competition for mining power and therefore to PoW operations of less difficulty.

The reduction in the difficulty of the PoW algorithm, in the event that the popularity and adoption of bitcoin continues to increase, nevertheless seems unlikely, since a price increase will mean an increase in competition for mining blocks, even after halving next year.

Another unknown is how the lightning network, a stratified offline payment protocol at the top of the Bitcoin network, will affect this if it succeeds in achieving success and adopting a widespread approach. It should necessarily drag part of the workload from the miners, as this is its precise goal; but a widespread adoption of Lightning would probably mean a much more general use of the Bitcoin network, potentially maintaining – or even increasing – the current levels of extraction requirements. In short, nobody knows what would happen.

Other topics

Bitcoin activist Andreas Antonopoulos is often questioned about the environmental damage caused by the Bitcoin network during his speeches. Usually it responds in two parts.

His first answer is that much of the production of energy is wasted in some parts of the world and that the creation of mining operations can be a form of "energy arbitrage". Secondly, it indicates the banking and financial system that the bitcoin could replace and draws attention to the huge amount of energy used to support its vast infrastructure: physical banks, office towers, data centers and the like.

Others have adopted social media in the same way, criticizing the attention of the bitcoin study in particular as being particularly harmful.

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