Bitcoin seems to be a religion for many people. The ones and zeros on the back of the cryptocurrency lead them to a binary view in which there is no room for nuance or criticism. Anyone who says anything critical about bitcoin is in the wrong camp by definition. If you are interested in bitcoin trading, visit https://immediate-edge.live/.
Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and Ethereum are an exciting phenomenon. Devising a decentralized payment system outside the established institutions is as fascinating as admirable. But there are some terrible aspects of this. And one problem is the waste problem of bitcoin mining. There are enormous mountains of waste from the computers that mine bitcoins.
The research comes from Alex de Vries and Christian Stoll, an energy specialist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After all the reports about the high energy consumption resulting from mining bitcoins, their latest article sheds extra light on the more minor fun sides. But, unfortunately, that light does not go down well with everyone. As always, with critical messages about cryptos, adverse reactions from people with bitcoin rained down on their Twitter profile.
The latter is undoubtedly true. But it is what is nowadays properly called a fallacy. In other words: the fact that there are also other polluters in the world does not alter the fact that the system behind bitcoin is highly polluting. This system is particularly ingenious: transactions have to be validated differently because there is no central system. It is done by using massive volumes of computer power. As the price rises, those puzzles get more complicated and even more computers have to be deployed. Owners benefit from these high prices by regularly replacing their equipment because they are outpacing other miners with better computers. The reward for all that work is bitcoins.
Those computers are replaced after a short time and end up on a mountain of waste somewhere.
Bitcoin fans say that miners only use clean energy or surplus energy. El Salvador takes the first steps to mine bitcoins with volcanic energy; hooray! In contrast, a major Pennsylvania crypto mining company, Stronghold Digital Mining. It has bought a complete power plant to meet its energy needs. The power station runs on coal and uses 600 thousand tons of coal per year. Mining bitcoins leads to a massive Waste Mountain of dumped computers.
Bitcoin mining is associated with substantial environmental problems, a new study shows. It is now well known that this so-called mining (also called mining) consumes large amounts of energy. But until now, another problem has been neglected: the computer waste mountain.
In their article in the scientific journal Resources, Conservation and Recycling, Alex de Varies and Christian Stoll estimate that the annual e-waste of bitcoins is no less than 30.7 kilotons. That is roughly as much electronic waste as the whole of the Netherlands produces in the same period. Earlier estimates already showed that mining bitcoins costs as much energy as our country consumes.
It all has to do with the technology behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin because there is no bank or other central body that keeps track of all transactions; that control has to be done differently. Namely: via a large electronic log, called the blockchain. The miners come in: whoever solves a complex mathematical puzzle first will receive bitcoins as a reward. The computing power of the same computer is needed to keep the bitcoin network safe. So computing power is in exchange for money. “The higher the value of the bitcoin, the more miners earn with it and the more they invest in new equipment,” says De Vries in a telephone explanation.
Those long rows of stomping computers in places where energy is cheap don’t just guzzle a lot of energy; they also create a lot of waste. In the past, regular computers were used for mining, but nowadays, crypto miners use heavy computers in the constant race to be the fastest. The chips in it can only do one thing: mine. All this with several elements that keep each other in a tight grip: higher prices lead to higher profits, which leads to more equipment and higher energy consumption. And the more participating computers, the more complicated the mathematical puzzles become again. De Vries: ‘The system functions by forcing participants to waste electricity and hardware.’
Computers are replaced on average every one year and four months. Usually, helpful nothing happens with the old equipment; it disappears somewhere on the waste mountain. It is estimated that only 17 per cent of electronic waste worldwide is properly recycled. That percentage is probably even lower for mining computers, thinks De Vries. Many of the millions of bitcoin computers are located in Iran or Kazakhstan, where cheap energy and recycling disciplines are low. In many cases, the heavy metals disappear into the soil or drinking water. The end of that is not yet in sight; with the persistently high prices, the researchers expect the waste mountain to reach more than 64 kilotons in the foreseeable future. Abstract numbers? A single bitcoin transaction is suitable for 272 grams of electronic waste.