To say that the cryptocurrency known as Bitcoin eats a lot of energy is an understatement. If Bitcoin were a country (praise be to the libertarian god that it’s not), it would be the 39th most energy-intensive place in the world, running on a similar amount of power to Austria.
What’s even worse, as Grist recently reported, is that Bitcoin’s energy consumption is growing at an unholy 20 percent per month, putting it on pace to consume the equivalent to the total power generated by all of the planet’s solar panels by the end of next year. “Bitcoin has a big problem, and it is growing fast,” wrote Alex de Vries of PwC’s Experience Center in the Netherlands this spring in the journal Joule.
In response, green-minded geeks have launched a batch of competing cryptocurrencies that take aim at the seemingly insatiable source of energy consumption that comes with Bitcoin mining, the proof-of-work system. Some of the entrants, like SolarCoin and EnergyCoin, are designed to spur construction of new solar farms. Most also use different, vastly less energy-intensive computation methods in generating their coins.
But that energy savings comes at the expense of Bitcoin’s distributed governance system, which is designed to ensure the security of its transactions — anathema to libertarians. One of the most promising appears to be Bitcoin Green, designed to solve the “problematic exponential increase in energy consumed by Bitcoin,” according to a 15-page manifesto posted on the cryptocurrency’s website.
In its launch video posted to Twitter last month, Bitcoin Green calls Bitcoin “an existential threat to our beautiful planet.” To the Bitcoin bros, those are fightin’ words. Bitcoin isn’t as bad as people think, the bros say, because major cryptocurrency mining facilities are already mostly using carbon-free energy. Read more from grist.org…
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