The question of the impact of Bitcoin’s production on the global climate is not new: for a long time, global emissions experts have argued that mining – that is, control, validation and cryptography of cryptomonetics – is extremely expensive in terms of energy. The complexity of calculation to verify the series of steps that ensures the security of these transactions requires the use of increasingly powerful processors: their energy consumption is the environmental price that is paid for this currency.
ONLY A TIME QUESTION. Now a study by the University of Hawaii at Manoa tries to give a clear horizon to these consumption (and the emissions they are responsible for). If Bitcoins continue to grow and spread as other technologies have done in transportation, nutrition and domestic consumption, they alone could produce enough CO2 emissions to make us exceed the +2 ° C threshold from the pre-industrial era by 2033. If their development will be slower, at this limit we will arrive anyway, although more slowly: to go over the roof of +2 ° C we will use 22 years, as the analysis published in Nature Climate Change explains.
AN IMPERCORRIBLE ROAD. Researchers considered the computing power needed by computers to undermine Bitcoin, the geographic location of virtual currency “mines” (the largest are in China) and the CO2 emissions needed to produce electricity in these countries. Based on these data, in 2017 the Bitcoin extraction was responsible for the emission of 69 million tons of CO2.
Then, they estimated the cumulative emissions of Bitcoins if their use were to spread at the same rate as other technologies considered responsible for harmful emissions. The result is that, provided that no more sustainable forms of assessment are found for the cryptomonet, its current method of extraction is unsustainable, due to the climatic standards required by the latest international climate treaties.