Bitcoin production accelerates climate change, scientists warn

Scientists are dropping facts this week, warning earth dwellers about the virtual currency bitcoin and its predicted impact on the environment.

The demand for it “single-handedly” derails efforts currently in place to mitigate climate change and global warming. The process of producing the digital currency requires extensive and prolonged energy use.

By 2033, scientists are saying the pace of bitcoin production will defeat “the aim of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, according to U.S. research published in the journal Nature Climate Change.”

In 2015, the Paris Agreement saw nearly 200 nations agree to limit global warming to well below 2*C.

Bitcoin mining, however, needs high-powered computers and gigawatts of electricity. To manufacture a bitcoin, a computer must complete complicated mathematical equations, consuming hours of energy and processing power.

“Currently, the emissions from transportation, housing and food are considered the main contributors to ongoing climate change … This research illustrates that bitcoin should be added to this list,” said study co-author Katie Taladay.

If you sell a bitcoin that you’ve helped create through mining, you could be up about $8,000 based on present currency values.

Carbon output

Last year, researchers estimated that bitcoin mining produced “69 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.”

That is a disparaging amount of emission, especially considering that not many consumers have started using the digital currency. Only 1% of the world’s cashless transactions were bitcoin transactions in 2017.

Once bitcoin use becomes more common, researchers are saying “it could use enough electricity to emit about 230 gigatonnes of carbon within a decade and a half. One gigatonne is equal to one billion metric tons of carbon.”

Clean energy

There is evidence that bitcoin mining is becoming more energy efficient, according to a research associate at the University of Pittsburgh.

Bitcoin miners are turning away from Chinese markets for production – they still rely on coal-generated electricity – and towards cleaner utility sources such as those found in the U.S. and Iceland.