Bitcoin by itself can generate 2 degree warming by 2033

If Bitcoin is implemented at similar rates at which other technologies have been incorporated, then Bitcoin alone could produce enough emissions to raise global temperatures by 2°C as soon as 2033.

Peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change – Bitcoin emissions alone could push global warming above 2°Celsius.

A team of UH Mānoa researchers analyzed information such as the power efficiency of computers used by Bitcoin mining, the geographic location of the miners who likely computed the Bitcoin and the CO2 emissions of producing electricity in those countries. Based on the data, the researchers estimated that the use of bitcoins in the year 2017 emitted 69 million metric tons of CO2.

Researchers also studied how other technologies have been adopted by society, and created scenarios to estimate the cumulative emissions of Bitcoin should it grow at the rate that other technologies have been incorporated.

The team found that if Bitcoin is incorporated, even at the slowest rate at which other technologies have been incorporated, its cumulative emissions will be enough to warm the planet above 2oC in just 22 years. If incorporated at the average rate of other technologies, it is closer to 16 years.

“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 Katie Taladay, a UH Mānoa PhD student and coauthor of the paper.

“We cannot predict the future of Bitcoin, but if implemented at a rate even close to the slowest pace at which other technologies have been incorporated, it will spell very bad news for climate change and the people and species impacted by it,” said Camilo Mora, associate professor of geography in the College of Social Sciences at UH Mānoa and lead author of the study.

38 thoughts on “Bitcoin by itself can generate 2 degree warming by 2033”

  1. Ahh yes the evil “They” as in they cannot control. All those researchers are in on the plot to “control” crypto currency. Thank goodness your are here with a level headed comment that the rest of us need to REALLY understand that global warming is just a way of control.

    Reply
  2. Luckily the research on proof of stake algorithms is going well. Blockchains using them will have insignificant energy consumption.They also have other advantages over proof of work, including faster block times and better scaling, so most of the growth in cryptocurrencies will probably be on those.

    Reply
  3. I wonder if they used video cards or ASIC devices, the latter of which are much, much more efficient at the majority of cryptocurrency mining than video cards are.

    Reply
  4. lol …The latest greentard fear mongering from the establishment. They are afraid of decentralized crypto currencies because they know they can’t control them. I guess they will try anything.Extrapolating like that shows they have a poor understanding of the dynamics in the blockchain business.

    Reply
  5. Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies, are just about the only product that could be exported from Mars to Earth without the shipping cost making the transaction meaningless.Warming up Mars is a good thing.No tax on Mars.The first person to get into electronic bypass-the-banks type business (Paypal) was named… Elon Musk.The resulting conclusion is obvious.

    Reply
  6. This is a “wtf” and “bs” article. Nuclear power and LFTR tech for PoW will eliminate any additional CO2. So by creating non-CO2 energy sources for BC, crypto currencies will REDUCE global CO2. Authors have all this backasswards. Oh, but maybe nuclear energy will make BC a bit expensive? Hmm.China is shutting down miners. BC will never reach the transaction processing timeframes needed for retail transactions. When someone figures out how to process > 100,000 BC transactions per second at a cost significant cheaper than current payment systems, wake me up. The Visa/MC/Amex payments processing systems measures per transaction costs in one thousands of a pey. What they charge merchants is irrelevant. Comparing BC adoption rates to that of toasters and other gadgets is idiotic. It’s a currency, not a gadget. Adoption is a matter of trust and a balance sheet. People need to get paid in BC to spend it. Else, yawn.

    Reply
  7. Bitcoin isn’t encouraging anything other than municipalities and government to ban mining as it crowds out power needed to run society. BC won’t generate CO2 if the power used is nuclear. But of course that would destroy the “business model” wouldn’t it? BC relies on power cheaper than the value of the coin. When the cost of said power is higher, there is no incentive. Add to this the power required to process transactions at rates comparable to payment systems and you have a unsustainable business model. BC is a classic example of a really interesting idea that became “too” successful, in that energy is not free. The idea was that the value of BC would always outrun the costs. A common fallacy when people who aren’t business-oriented invent things. BC is susceptible to market forces just like anything else.

    Reply
  8. Bitcoin isn’t encouraging anything other than municipalities and government to ban mining as it crowds out power needed to run society. BC won’t generate CO2 if the power used is nuclear. But of course that would destroy the “business model” wouldn’t it? BC relies on power cheaper than the value of the coin. When the cost of said power is higher, there is no incentive. Add to this the power required to process transactions at rates comparable to payment systems and you have a unsustainable business model.

    BC is a classic example of a really interesting idea that became “too” successful, in that energy is not free. The idea was that the value of BC would always outrun the costs. A common fallacy when people who aren’t business-oriented invent things. BC is susceptible to market forces just like anything else.

    Reply
  9. Check out the MATRIX AI blockchain as an example of a new consensus algorithm that tries to solve problems with POW and POS.

    Reply
  10. Regardless of bitcoin’s ability to generate climate warming, it certainly remains true that it is a stupidly wasteful technology, and I certainly hope that the future of cryptocurrencies will be more efficient in terms of energy/hardware usage…

    Reply
  11. Regardless of bitcoin’s ability to generate climate warming, it certainly remains true that it is a stupidly wasteful technology, and I certainly hope that the future of cryptocurrencies will be more efficient in terms of energy/hardware usage…

    Reply
  12. This is a “wtf” and “bs” article. Nuclear power and LFTR tech for PoW will eliminate any additional CO2. So by creating non-CO2 energy sources for BC, crypto currencies will REDUCE global CO2. Authors have all this backasswards. Oh, but maybe nuclear energy will make BC a bit expensive? Hmm.China is shutting down miners. BC will never reach the transaction processing timeframes needed for retail transactions. When someone figures out how to process > 100,000 BC transactions per second at a cost significant cheaper than current payment systems, wake me up. The Visa/MC/Amex payments processing systems measures per transaction costs in one thousands of a pey. What they charge merchants is irrelevant. Comparing BC adoption rates to that of toasters and other gadgets is idiotic. It’s a currency, not a gadget. Adoption is a matter of trust and a balance sheet. People need to get paid in BC to spend it. Else, yawn.

    Reply
  13. This is a “wtf” and “bs” article. Nuclear power and LFTR tech for PoW will eliminate any additional CO2. So by creating non-CO2 energy sources for BC, crypto currencies will REDUCE global CO2. Authors have all this backasswards. Oh, but maybe nuclear energy will make BC a bit expensive? Hmm.

    China is shutting down miners. BC will never reach the transaction processing timeframes needed for retail transactions. When someone figures out how to process > 100,000 BC transactions per second at a cost significant cheaper than current payment systems, wake me up. The Visa/MC/Amex payments processing systems measures per transaction costs in one thousands of a penny. What they charge merchants is irrelevant. Comparing BC adoption rates to that of toasters and other gadgets is idiotic. It’s a currency, not a gadget. Adoption is a matter of trust and a balance sheet. People need to get paid in BC to spend it. Else, yawn.

    Reply
  14. Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies, are just about the only product that could be exported from Mars to Earth without the shipping cost making the transaction meaningless.Warming up Mars is a good thing.No tax on Mars.The first person to get into electronic bypass-the-banks type business (Paypal) was named… Elon Musk.The resulting conclusion is obvious.

    Reply
  15. Koomey’s law doesn’t help because mining is competitive; all miners compete for a share of a fixed reward. If the miners become twice as efficient, they’ll just do twice as much computation.In general, the total mining expense will tend to be a bit less than the total reward. Currently the chain awards 12.5 BTC every ten minutes, worth about $80K, so that’s how much miners will spend. If they spent much less, mining would be very profitable and more miners would jump in. If they spent much more, mining would be unprofitable and some miners would drop out.Moving away from proof of work is the only way to fix this.

    Reply
  16. There are tons of work ongoing for different consensus mechanisms. One obvious development is Proof Of Useful Work where the energy is spent also doing something valuable to humanity instead of just guessing numbers with artificial difficulty.

    Reply
  17. Bitcoin is energy expensive because of the mining practice, not because that’s what’s actually necessary for all the transactions. There’s also forks that can improve efficiency if this gets out of hand, the already current existence of other cryptos that are more energy efficient, and Koomey’s law, which suggests that computation per watt doubles every 1.57 years.

    Reply
  18. Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies, are just about the only product that could be exported from Mars to Earth without the shipping cost making the transaction meaningless.

    Warming up Mars is a good thing.

    No tax on Mars.

    The first person to get into electronic bypass-the-banks type business (Paypal) was named… Elon Musk.

    The resulting conclusion is obvious.

    Reply
  19. Luckily the research on proof of stake algorithms is going well. Blockchains using them will have insignificant energy consumption.They also have other advantages over proof of work, including faster block times and better scaling, so most of the growth in cryptocurrencies will probably be on those.

    Reply
  20. Koomey’s law doesn’t help because mining is competitive; all miners compete for a share of a fixed reward. If the miners become twice as efficient, they’ll just do twice as much computation.

    In general, the total mining expense will tend to be a bit less than the total reward. Currently the chain awards 12.5 BTC every ten minutes, worth about $80K, so that’s how much miners will spend. If they spent much less, mining would be very profitable and more miners would jump in. If they spent much more, mining would be unprofitable and some miners would drop out.

    Moving away from proof of work is the only way to fix this.

    Reply
  21. Please elaborate. I am curious as to which dynamics in the blockchain business that contribute to lower energy consumption in the future.

    Reply
  22. I wonder if they used video cards or ASIC devices, the latter of which are much, much more efficient at the majority of cryptocurrency mining than video cards are.

    Reply
  23. lol …The latest greentard fear mongering from the establishment. They are afraid of decentralized crypto currencies because they know they can’t control them. I guess they will try anything.Extrapolating like that shows they have a poor understanding of the dynamics in the blockchain business.

    Reply
  24. There are tons of work ongoing for different consensus mechanisms.
    One obvious development is Proof Of Useful Work where the energy is spent also doing something valuable to humanity instead of just guessing numbers with artificial difficulty.

    Reply
  25. Bitcoin is energy expensive because of the mining practice, not because that’s what’s actually necessary for all the transactions. There’s also forks that can improve efficiency if this gets out of hand, the already current existence of other cryptos that are more energy efficient, and Koomey’s law, which suggests that computation per watt doubles every 1.57 years.

    Reply
  26. Luckily the research on proof of stake algorithms is going well. Blockchains using them will have insignificant energy consumption.

    They also have other advantages over proof of work, including faster block times and better scaling, so most of the growth in cryptocurrencies will probably be on those.

    Reply
  27. lol …
    The latest greentard fear mongering from the establishment. They are afraid of decentralized crypto currencies because they know they can’t control them. I guess they will try anything.
    Extrapolating like that shows they have a poor understanding of the dynamics in the blockchain business.

    Reply

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