Rate this post
November 01, 2018 @ 11:30 +03:00
The cryptocurrency bitcoin has been touted by its proponents as a way to help solve our most pressing problems, from homelessness and human trafficking to cancer and the global financial crisis. Bitcoin’s ability to reduce fraud and security risk has made it one of the most transparent digital currencies on the market. Many see this as a critical next step to holding governments accountable for carbon emissions, and even developing a market for reducing the world’s carbon footprint.
But the currency also has a dark side. A new study from the University of Hawaii finds that if bitcoin becomes more widely adopted, the huge amounts of electricity used to trade the cryptocurrency could push global temperatures above 2 degrees Celsius by 2033. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a 2-degree rise in global temperatures could reduce water availability in some areas by up to 30%, make arctic species like the polar bear and caribou vulnerable to extinction, and subject another 10 million people to coastal flooding.
Like many forms of cryptocurrency, bitcoin relies on the emissions-heavy coal industry as a cheap source of power. While the researchers acknowledge that they can’t predict the future of bitcoin, which has a short history characterized by cycles of boom and bust, they’ve developed a relatively conservative model: If bitcoin is adopted at a rate even close to the slowest pace of major technologies like cars, credit cards, or air conditioning, it could soon alter the environment as we know it, said Mora.
A recent report found that the electricity used for a single bitcoin trade could power a home for almost a month. In 2017 alone, the use of bitcoin produced 69 million metric tons of carbon dioxide — about the same as the state of Arkansas.