All the techno-utopians who claim that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are the decentralized financial future seem to neglect the physical toll this technology has on the very world we live in. It’s not necessarily a new finding that bitcoin mining uses a ton of energy, but yesterday we saw the first peer-reviewed study that confirmed just that. What’s more, the environmental toll is about to get worse.
According to this study by economist Alex de Vries, which was reported in Grist, bitcoin’s energy usage is expected to double by the end of this year–which would represent an energy footprint roughly equal to that of the Netherlands. Already, according to the paper, current bitcoin usage represents nearly the energy output of Ireland.
As blockchain becomes more normalized, this insane energy footprint will only grow. De Vries foresees a near future where bitcoin consumes as much a 5% of the world’s energy.
While these conclusions aren’t new–de Vries has been speaking out about this issue for quite some time now–this is the first time the scientific community has backed up his claims. Hopefully, this could begin a wakeup call for the blockchain community. As we wrote last year, there are some fixes we could begin implementing now to mitigate the damage.
The first step, however, is getting people to understand what the future damage could be. Let’s hope they realize the environmental toll before it’s too late.