back to article Don't hate on cryptomining, hate the power stations, say Bitcoin super-fans

Big names in Bitcoin have defended cryptocurrency mining, issuing a jointly signed letter hitting back at US lawmakers who last month urged a government watchdog to probe the practice. Twitter founder and Bitcoin champion Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Bitcoin-collecting MicroStrategy Michael Saylor, and others on Monday signed the …

  1. Philip Storry
    Facepalm

    Wow

    Well this just has to be them chancing their arm...

    Here are some other ways that they could use this logic to chance their arm:

    "I don't see why I'm to blame, the car manufacturer made the car. I just drove it through the crowd because I was late for a meeting!"

    "I'm pretty sure it's the chemical company's fault, I just thought arsenic would bring a nice almond taste to my bakery's bread!"

    "Hey, don't blame me - it's the knife manufacturer that's responsible for the stabbings!"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wow

      "Don't look at me. It was the pie makers fault. It's their fault the clown got a well timed comedic pie to the face"

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Wow

      Only in this analogy, the knife causes injuries during its manufacture, not after it has been purchased. This might not make a difference in some philosophical analysies. Harm is harm.

      However, it might affect who the philosophers argue is responsible to preventing and mitigating the harm. If I buy a pie in the shop, I know less about the supply chain that the pie maker does - I don't know if his dolphin noses are ethically sourced or not - so maybe the onus of responsibility lies with him.

      Then again, there is an argument for rationing - yes, drink water from your tap, but don't take hour-long showers.

      However, rationing is moot if it can't be enforced - and enforcement is often easier to do at the point of sale than it is at the point of use.

      Then again... etc... And on the other hand...

      1. Not Yb
        WTF?

        Re: Wow

        Sorry, what are you trying to say here?

    3. hoola Silver badge

      Re: Wow

      So a system that is mindbogglingly inefficient and requires gigawatts of power to pretty much do not a great deal blame the electricity producers.

      Everything about crypto-mining is ridiculous. Whilst I am sure there maybe some uses for blockchain, it has to become efficient and crypto is just insane in the power usage.

      There really are far better things the time, money and resources could be used on.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wow

        I agree - what's the point of cryptocurrency beyond making money. Invest to buy electricity and sell as the currency. If it was able to replace other forms of currency that had a greater carbon footprint it might have merit; however, almost all the legitimate financial transactions it replaces are electronic (and those that aren't could be) - I struggle to see how such mining can ever be justified.

        On the matter of the article, whilst the generating companies need to move to less carbon intensive processes, nothing is truly carbon neutral so we all share the responsibility to reduce our energy footprint.

        Finally, insofar blockchain is concerned, the technology seems to have been conflated with cryptocurrency; it's a separate technology that has been adopted by cryptocurrency but has many uses that don't involve the waste of energy involved with mining. It's being used for a range of global transactions, including shipping and certification and traceability. It could be adopted for national currencies as well, though that would likely wrest control from the governments that need to maintain a modicum of such.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Wow

          "If it was able to replace other forms of currency that had a greater carbon footprint it might have merit"

          Cash is still very green. A coin lasts decades and a note several years. New materials are making notes last even longer. Many cash transactions require no power at all. If I buy something at an estate sale and pay cash, the seller may not put that money in the bank but use it in trade for something else. If the power is off, it's still possible to do a cash transaction. My town is served mostly by one internet service provider and when they go down nearly every business around is cash only. What does a business that doesn't accept cash do when their internet is down, their payment processor is offline or there is an issue with their account and they can't process transactions? If they are in a shopping mall, many times there is a covenant about store hours. They can only close (or not open) if there is something like a pipe burst, power outage or sewer backup. Having an issue with taking payments might not be a valid excuse if they don't take cash and the fines can be significant.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Wow

        one of the initial attractions of the intrinsic inefficiency and unscalability was to thwart spammers

        Back in hashcash proposal days, the idea was that the cost of generating micropayments for normal emails would be negligible, but would essentially bring spamming operations to a grinding halt even if they used stolen resources (and draw serious attention to the use of those stolen resources thanks to the heat generated)

        Bitcoin and other things grew out of those ideas

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Wow

      I suppose in their case such a disconnection from reality is to be expected.

      1. Jedit Silver badge
        Trollface

        "I suppose in their case such a disconnection from reality is to be expected."

        Disconnection? Electricity? My God, sir, I do believe you've just solved the crypto problem in one fell swoop!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "I suppose in their case such a disconnection from reality is to be expected."

          Why can't they use some of their mined Bitcoin and use it to build green power stations?

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: "I suppose in their case such a disconnection from reality is to be expected."

            "Why can't they use some of their mined Bitcoin and use it to build green power stations?"

            What would qualify as a "green" power station? Renewables are intermittent and while nuclear is somewhat green, it's billions up front in just lawyer costs to get started. A crypto scheme can't stop working because the wind isn't blowing and it's dark outside.

    5. NewModelArmy

      Re: Wow

      I think this just epitomises how greed warps the mind, and human soul.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Wow

        Yup. It's all cashing in on the "make money fast" mentality that drives just about all bubbles

        If you want to make serious money in a gold rush, sell shovels.

    6. Plest Silver badge

      Re: Wow

      The knife analogy, hmm bit of a stretch on that one but fair points, people passing the buck to justify their behaviour is always hard to stomach and the crypto-mining bros are just really getting desperate with this absolute twaddle. You used the leccy, it still had to be made so unless it's 100% renewable supply ( wind, wave or sun ) then get off your high horse or down from your ivory towers.

    7. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Wow

      After reading over this article, all I can do is facepalm and recognize it as a case of "Stupid vs Stupider"

      Which one is 'stupid' and which is 'stupider' (politicans vs crypto-miners) probably depends on your perspective...

      And I DID notice that a Cali-Forn-You Demo[n,c][R,r]at and a handful of OTHER Demo[n,c][R,r]ats were behind the "memo" aka "ABuse of the EPA to harass some company they do not like". On the other end the crypto-miners are carefully doing the side-step with regards to their electricity usage, making claims that even the SLIMIEST defense attorney would facepalm at. BOTH sides are COMPLETELY STUPID.

      I say: build a barge with a power generator, float it out 100 miles off shore, make your own electricity and use the same kind of station-keeping tech Musk uses for landing his rockets on barges (or 'ships' if they are self-propelled, I forget which), and circumvent the stupidity while simultaneously mining your coins. A big barge could have a ginormous crypto-mining data center and enough fuel storage on board to last for MONTHS, be unattended by humans, and be wirelessly on the internet via satellite. And if you are really clever you could partially submerge it (with appropriate navigation hazard warnings) to prevent anyone from boarding it and taking it over. And every few months it is towed back to port for maintenance and re-fueling.

      Just a thought, at any rate. You could even make it out of concrete.

      1. Kapsalon

        Re: Wow

        This has got to be the most incomprehensible bombastic bob post.

        What does the barge solve exactly?

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Pirate

          Re: Wow

          What does the barge solve exactly

          * make your own power from inexpensive marine diesel fuel

          * outside of the reach of regulators

          This way you simply maintain an autonomous generator + data center for your crypto mining. Nobody can prevent you from running it. Nobody can make a big whiny stink about "Climate Change" to try to STOP you with endless lawsuits and governmentium gumming things up. You are not on the grid and therefore are not subject to additional fees/taxes or limits (including hours of operation). It would bypass ALL of that.

          And, In My Bombastic Opinion, it would COST LESS to do it this way.

          (I thought this would be obvious to the casual observer. I guess not)

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Wow

            "* make your own power from inexpensive marine diesel fuel"

            Petroleum fuels are the most expensive way to generate electricity. This is why coal is a big power source. It's not all that great for other things in the same way oil is. Using a diesel generator that has to do station keeping offshore in international waters isn't going to be cheap either. The sea relentlessly beats things to death while simultaneously corroding metal into oblivion.

            Geothermal is an excellent way to generate power, but I'd rather see places such as Iceland use that resource to make things such as Aluminium, ammonia and other large power consuming processes rather than spend it all on a sketchy scheme to digitize cash in a way that doesn't solve that many problems.

    8. Chris King

      Re: Wow

      It's like crystal meth dealers blaming the drugs companies for manufacturing pseudoephedrine.

      "We wouldn't be such evil bastards if you didn't make cures for a runny nose!"

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Wow

        The only reason crystal meth exists is because cheaper, more effective drugs(*) are legislated into illegality and treated as a military issue instead of a health one

        (*) Morphine+derivatives and cocaine - two of the cheapest and most useful ones ever discovered in medical history

    9. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Wow

      The US firearms industry has been running on this logic for years. They have absolutely nothing to do with gun violence. They can prove it.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Wow

        Neither does the window industry, construction industry, or architects have anything to do with people "accidentally" falling a few stories.

        (vague reference to SImon the BOFH)

    10. Mike 16 Silver badge

      It's a flavoring agent! It's a beauty emhancer!

      Arsenic for almond flavor? Far more likely to be used for cosmetic reasons:

      http://ultimatehistoryproject.com/arsenic-eaters.html

      Almond flavor tends to be from cyanide.

      Or is this one of those cases where "science" in writing is deliberately twisted to keep the kiddies from trying it at home? e.g. Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice as an ingredient of Napalm, in the movie version of Fight Club. The book had a more accurate description. One has to wonder if evil intent has negative correlation with reading.

      (Do I need to mention that the Anarchist's Cookbook? Those of my acquaintance who have checked it more thoroughly suggest that it was intended to weed out the sort who might take it too seriously.)

  2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Bitcoin miners have no emissions whatsoever

    Bitcoin miners have no emissions whatsoever at the location of mining

    Funny how they forgot the end of that sentence.

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: Bitcoin miners have no emissions whatsoever

      It's like leaving the heating and air-conditioning on max all year round and claiming there's no emissions cost. The blind spot these people parade is simply incredible.

      1. b0llchit Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Bitcoin miners have no emissions whatsoever

        The "blind spot" is in the fact that it actually pays to waste electrical energy at this scale and be rewarded for it.

        1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

          Re: Bitcoin miners have no emissions whatsoever

          It's summer now around me so all my miners are turned off, they will probably get started up again in November.

          1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

            Re: Bitcoin miners have no emissions whatsoever

            Heating your home with miners isn't a great excuse. In many climates a heat pump is 3 to 4 times as efficient.

        2. itsborken

          Re: Bitcoin miners have no emissions whatsoever

          If we have progressive taxes where the rich pay more than their share than the lower classes, why are there not progressive electric bills where those using vastly more electricity pay progressive rates? The cryptominers are clearly making a bad situation worse.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Bitcoin miners have no emissions whatsoever

            "why are there not progressive electric bills where those using vastly more electricity pay progressive rates?"

            Where I am leccy is more expensive the more that I use. I'm always in the lowest tier and if I ever wind up having to pay prices at the next tier, I'll start adding solar. Even if the feed-in tariff gets sliced, just the savings by staying in the first tier might be worth the cost.

      2. NXM Bronze badge

        Re: Bitcoin miners have no emissions whatsoever

        I have actually seen that in offices when a thermostat war broke out

    2. jmch Silver badge

      Re: Bitcoin miners have no emissions whatsoever

      I do understand one point the Bitcoin supporters are making, which is, all datacenters use a lot of power. So why is it OK to use a ton of power to train an AI model, or to run an e-commerce site, but not to mine cryptocurrency? Certainly there is an argument to be made to make crypto mining more energy efficient, but that argument can be made about any form of energy consumption.

      The argument that seems to be being made from the regulators is, what is the societal usefulness of crypto mining that justifies the energy expenditure? AKA if I don't use it or know what it is, is it really relevant/important/useful? Once again, I could make the same argument for Google or Facebook building a massive AI to crunch data whose sole purpose is shoveling ads. At the moment it's simply a process of 'energy in, money out'.

      Clearly stating that its up to the energy companies to provide clean energy, "not my fault guv" is complete bollocks.

      1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Re: Bitcoin miners have no emissions whatsoever

        So why is it OK to use a ton of power to train an AI model, or to run an e-commerce site, but not to mine cryptocurrency?

        E-commerce sites and AI systems do useful things. Cryptocurrency mining does nothing except enable Ponzi scheme operators and other criminals.

        1. gotes

          Re: Bitcoin miners have no emissions whatsoever

          E-commerce sites and AI systems do useful things.

          All of them?

        2. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Bitcoin miners have no emissions whatsoever

          >E-commerce sites and AI systems do useful things

          Citation needed.

          1. David 132 Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Bitcoin miners have no emissions whatsoever

            > Citation needed.

            Well, then, how about this e-commerce site?

            PS: Despite usernames, we are not related. As far as I know.

            Not till you take back what you said about our Doreen at Cousin Neville's wedding, anyway.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Bitcoin miners have no emissions whatsoever

              Dave fight!

        3. vogon00

          Re: Bitcoin miners have no emissions whatsoever

          I'm a bit late to this bun-fight and was having trouble deciding which comment to reply to with my two penneth/cents worth. Ian Johnston wins an upvote.

          OK, Crypto-mining has been around for a while now, and the issue of the power consumed by this computationally intensive operation has been discussed to death already. I'm not a miner myself, but I do look after the networking for a couple of friends/family who are. I have to say that whilst they appear to earn good coin for themselves but predominantly others, I find the power consumption of the distributed mining operation (Helium, if anyone's interested) mildly offensive....but not as bad as the frankly ridiculous about of bandwidth being consumed. In one case, a single device has racked up about 10.5GB over 3 days, and the traffic stats on the site's main (SOHO) router are......alarming, with about 80% of the last 30 day's traffic being miner traffic.

          All this traffic has be be generated (By the miner), transported (Local Infrastructure, Internet etc), and further processed/visualised in the 'cloud' somewhere...all of which takes considerable wattage when combined. Someone, somewhere has to pay for the elec-trickery and get rid of the heat.. It's a really, really inefficient way to use power. At least using POE has the benefit of reducing wall-wart power supplies and cabling/complexity.

          It's strange that no-one's pointed out the inequality in power generation costs apportioned by the generation industry. I dislike my bills increasing to fund the increasing infrastructure required to service the power requirements/whims of a comparatively small portion of the wider community - but I guess things are always like that.

          The other strange thing is that ISPs/Carriers haven't been bitching about their infrastructure costs caused by the mad, and increasing, amount of miner traffic they are having to carry. There was a spat between the video streaming and the ISP/carrier industries a while back - I wonder if anyone will re-open that can of worms re cryptominer traffic.

          Whilst writing this, I've come to the conclusion that crypto currency and the 'mining' thereof is an interesting innovation/revenue stream, but we've all got better things to do with what little 'spare' electricity we have available - which isn't much! The more I think about it and do some modelling, the less I like it. On balance, it would be better if power-hungry cryptobollocks hadn't been invented,....but it has and we're stuck with it.

          And yes, I'm aware that I'm being hypocritical.. I do afterall support/run a few home/SOHO networks that that have miners in them...and not for profit either, just for fun, so I don't even get anything in return!.

          1. martinusher Silver badge

            Re: Bitcoin miners have no emissions whatsoever

            What you're saying is that its OK for the miners to mooch off the network and electricity supply infrastructure. They pay their bills of course, but then the problem shifts to the commodities being priced based on particular consumption patterns. Miners distort the consumption patterns without generating anything of value for society.

            We have the same kinds of arguments over water in California. We need to share the available resources between various types of users but you always get a number who don't mind paying thousands a month using huge amounts of water "because they can afford it". The problem is that water is a finite resource -- its not a matter of grabbing what you can, the resource has to be used judiciously.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Bitcoin miners have no emissions whatsoever

              "The problem is that water is a finite resource"

              One of the big complaints about EV's by the naysayers is there isn't enough power available to charge the cars if "everybody" got one. Power generation is also a finite resource similar to water. More power plants can be built and desalination plants can be built to provide more water. Although, I read an article that California would rather dry up than have any more of either. A desalination plant proposed for Huntington Beach was denied by the Coastal Commission on worries about pollution.

              If power is too limited to charge EV's, which I see as a more efficient method of personal transportation, how can there be enough power to run crypto miners when physical cash can just sit there for ages without needing to be plugged in. It can even be used without adding a flow of electrons.

      2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        Re: Bitcoin miners have no emissions whatsoever

        Datacenters use a lot of power, but power usage is an incidental cost. Datacenter owners are looking for ways to reduce power. Efficiency is rewarded.

        Bitcoin miners use a lot of power, but power usage is a fundamental aspect of bitcoin: it's not a cost, it's the main component. If a more efficient way is found to mine bitcoins, the algorithm adjusts to keep power usage high. Efficiency is eliminated.

        1. Fred Goldstein

          Re: Bitcoin miners have no emissions whatsoever

          And that's the key point -- the algorithm adjusts to keep power usage high! The value of bitcoin (or other PoW) is mostly in the value of the energy wasted to create it. That is the fundamental idea behind the value of mined metals too.

          Any watts used to create PoW coins, even if "clean and green", could have been diverted into the grid to displace other carbon-burning power. Electricity is fungible; all waste is waste. Coin mining should be a felony.

          1. Not Yb
            Facepalm

            Re: Bitcoin miners have no emissions whatsoever

            I recall what was the WORST argument in favor of cryptocoins I've ever read...

            Apparently the person in favor (of bitcoin) decided that somehow crypto's use of energy was reversible, and thus any cryptocoin was actually a store of energy that you could use the value of to create more clean energy.

            No, it didn't make sense. No, it was not possible to convince that particular idiot that bitcoin was NOT some sort of battery system.

            1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

              Re: Bitcoin miners have no emissions whatsoever

              Another commenter here (many years ago on a different topic) suggested using a Joule as a unit of currency - this, I thought, was brilliant, not least because it illustrates that bitcoin et al are literally burning money.

              1. Cuddles Silver badge

                Re: Bitcoin miners have no emissions whatsoever

                It's an old idea in sci-fi. In a post-scarcity society, what else has value other than the energy needed to keep things running? Stellaris is one of the more recent examples where money is explicitly energy credits, but even Star Trek had the basic concept before someone came up with the stupid idea of re-introducing cash. Voyager in particular is fairly explicit about having an economy based on energy with the replicator ration as the basic unit of currency.

            2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Re: Bitcoin miners have no emissions whatsoever

              Pft.

              Physical (or virtual) currency is simply a store of value. If I hadn't erased my bitcoin, and didn't hate paperwork, maybe I could have bought my own SMR and added 500MW to the grid. So then it would be stored energy.

              But such is politics. Grid scale batteries don't store energy either, they store currency. So they generate millions from grid balancing, and selling electricity when prices are high. Windmills are like coin mining given they generate tokens like ROCs that get converted to cash, and drive up everyones energy costs.

              Or there's other energy stores like aluminium drinks cans. Aluminium is after all condensed electricity, but isn't a value store given the energy required to recycle cans and converting back to tradeable aluminium.

      3. Nifty Silver badge

        Re: Bitcoin miners have no emissions whatsoever

        "Certainly there is an argument to be made to make crypto mining more energy efficient"

        Bitcoin derives its value from scarcity. Higher energy efficiency would only ratchet up the arms race one more notch. There'd be a temporary dip in the price of Bitcoin as new entrants arrived to take advantage, followed by a return to the norm of borderline madness energy consumption.

    3. Marty McFly Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Bitcoin miners have no emissions whatsoever

      "Bitcoin miners have no emissions whatsoever at the location of mining"

      HA! That is just like Tesla vehicles have no emissions whatsoever at the location of their driving.

    4. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Bitcoin miners have no emissions whatsoever

      And that's not even true, in cases like the Montana coal plant mentioned that stayed open to host bitcoin mining.

      The scammers are running scared.

  3. Dave 126 Silver badge

    > The enthusiasts are all invested.

    I'm not invested. However I find the following point interesting:

    There is no way for me to prove I am *not* invested in Bitcoin. Just as you can not prove today that there is *not* a teapot floating beyond the orbit of Mars (Russell's Teapot).

    (My reasons for not investing are because I don't understand all my biases and levers. Sometimes I'm aware of a feeling of 'If only I'd invested when...', and it seems obvious that this emotional state isn't likely useful for rational decisions. )

    1. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Bronze badge

      "There is no way for me to prove I am *not* invested in Bitcoin"

      I don't think any proof is required, just for you to declare (honestly) if you are invested or not. If you don't use, own or trade bitcoin, or have any dependence on someone who does, then you can justifiably say you are not invested.

      Granted, this ignores the possibility that for instance, you might have some conventional monetary dealings with someone who also uses bitcoins, but to say that makes you invested would be tenuous.

      1. Paul Herber Silver badge

        ' just for you to declare (honestly) if you are invested or not.'

        If every politician and government advisor in every country had to declare whether or not they had had any cryptocurrency dealings at any time, past or present, directly or indirectly, how many would you believe?

        a. I didn't know that was a cryptocurrency.

        b. That transaction was made by my 2 year-old son.

        c. I have no recollection of that transaction.

        d. Somebody else must have access to my bank account!

        e. I've been scammed.

        f. That money was just resting in my account.

        g. I resigned from that company at least 3 minutes ago.

        h. I wanted to make some money to help my community.

        i. <deity> told me it was the right thing to do.

        j. I promise I won't do it again and lessons have been learned.

        1. Snowy Silver badge
          Joke

          You missed one :)

          k. My accounted did it.

        2. Franco Silver badge

          K. I was looking at tractors on my phone and accidentally ended up on a cryptomining site

          (reference to a recent incident in UK parliament for those outside these shores)

          1. David 132 Silver badge
            Coat

            Reminds me of the old joke about the two farmers, one of whom is going through a rough patch in his marriage so goes to see a counsellor.

            His neighbour pops over the next evening to see him, and seeing a light in the barn, looks in and is shocked to see the first farmer there, in a thong and Chippendales costume, cavorting in front of his Massey Ferguson.

            "What the hell are you doing???" he asks.

            "Well," comes the reply, "the counsellor said that if I want to win my wife's affections back, I should act sexy to attract her..."

            (Yes, that's my coat there. I think I'll take it and go now, that would be best for all concerned.)

        3. David 132 Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          f. That money was just resting in my account.

          You went to Las Vegas whilst that poor child was supposed to be in Lourdes!!

        4. Claverhouse Silver badge
    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: My reasons for not investing are because I don't understand all my biases and levers

      Well my reasons for not investing in funny money is because I am fully aware that the field is full of thieves and scammers and I don't want to give up my hard-earned to them.

      Each to his own, I guess.

      1. quxinot

        Re: My reasons for not investing are because I don't understand all my biases and levers

        In fairness, I suspect that very argument doesn't fly if you use it in the more obvious condition...

        ....e.g., taxes.

      2. Brad16800

        Re: My reasons for not investing are because I don't understand all my biases and levers

        My brother talked up one of them so I put in $300. Now worth $200 so can't say I'm all in on crypto.

        My share portfolio is up 10% this year so I think I'll stick with that

    3. Ace2 Bronze badge

      I can prove you haven’t invested in bitcoin.

      *No one* has invested in bitcoin - it’s just gamblers and speculators. Ergo, you have not invested in bitcoin.

  4. Filippo Silver badge

    I was briefly surprised that anyone could manage to tell this kind of bullcarp with a straight face.

    Then I remembered that we're living in the post-truth age - you could claim the moon is made of cheese, and you'd quickly find some people cheering you, some scientists backing you, and some politician speaking for you.

    Claiming that wasting massive amounts of power is not, y'know, wasting massive amounts of power, is small fries these days.

  5. Stoneshop Silver badge
    Mushroom

    "Bitcoin miners have no emissions whatsoever"

    On the contrary, they do spew out a load of hot air themselves.

    Although they will argue that for getting rid of the literal hot air they "just purchase the electricity" to run their aircons.

    The other form of hot air they hork up also needlessly takes energy to counter.

  6. DrXym Silver badge

    Nah

    If it's all the same to these crypto mining jerks I'll just blame them. They can prattle on about building power stations & mining operations on the side of volcanoes or whatever libertarian fever dreams their minds can come up with, but the reality right now is they're using inordinate amounts of power to mine for digital scrip. Crypto currencies need to be heavily regulated and favour "proof of stake" style currencies which at least use a lot less power than the traditional mined "proof of work" style currencies.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Nah

      > Crypto currencies need to be heavily regulated

      As soon as it has a regulator it doesn't need the crypto bit. If there is an authority that everybody trusts, then it might as well keep the ledger centrally and save everyone else the bother.

      I'm not defending crypto per se or negating your criticisms of it. I just wanted to clarify what your proposed solution amounts to in the eyes of many crypto people.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: Nah

        Regulation means a legal framework and a set of rules for any financial institution that wants to trade in that "currency". A definition of what digital currency is - is it money or property or what? - rules for money/property laundering, auditing, deposit / withdrawal, foreign transactions, marketing, complaints & ombudsmen. Plus tweaks to any regulations concerning bank deposit guarantees, ownership, custodianship, theft, fraud, etc.

        And most importantly, energy consumption rules. e.g. a CO2 tax on transactions. This would naturally favour "proof of stake" style currencies and put "proof of work" currencies at a severe disadvantage.

  7. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge
    Holmes

    Guns don't kill, bullets do

    Well, technically they're correct, however, they're wrong.

    Would they be content to run their mining rigs only when there's a surplus of wind and solar power, though?

    1. jmch Silver badge

      Re: Guns don't kill, bullets do

      "Would they be content to run their mining rigs only when there's a surplus of wind and solar power, though?"

      I've actually read articles about some mining operations that set up in areas of high renewables generation. When generation is high, cost goes low so they operate on cheap energy when it is plentiful. That also makes sense since as a miner since power cost is their major cost.

      One other that I've seen is with regard to flare-off gas in oil wells. In some cases it's not technically or commercially feasible to bottle up / pipe out the gas, but environmental rules limit the amount of gas that can be flared off. So it's anyway gas that would be burnt, and if the drillers can't get rid of enough gas, they can't pump more oil. So some miners have colocated their rigs with generators that use the excess gas (which they get for free, or in some cases even get paid to burn)

      I would guess that these are outliers though.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Guns don't kill, bullets do

        Here in Argentina there's a hot new debate about how a lot of crypto miners are taking advantage of the massively subsidized electricity rates in Tierra del Fuego. The original intent behind that was to incentivize people to move to the most southern region (outside of the Antarctic Peninsula) we have, but these scumbags are simply running their Ponzis on the pockets of the rest of the country.

        Obviously, the local libertarians are blaming the subsidies in the first place, and the common folk living in Tierra del Fuego next for not taking advantage of the low fares the way they do.

      2. Not Yb

        Re: Guns don't kill, bullets do

        I know this is controversial (to some oil drillers at least), but the idea of "no flare off more than x" is not to convince them to burn more of it at the borehole. Supposed to be capturing the gas, and selling it to people who can use it for good things.

        I've heard that there are several countries who may be willing to pay more for natural gas these days.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Guns don't kill, bullets do

          How practical is it to do that though?

          Thinking that the gas from a well isn't pure CH4, so can't just be fed straight into the gas network. Assuming there was a network connection. If not, the extraction site would need filtration, compression and cryo handling to produce LNG that could be transported by road or rail.

          Or whether you can simply run the 'raw' gas into a turbine and generate electricity without burgering up the jet. It's one of those interesting subjects given idiotic demands to punish the oil & gas industry, which produces a huge variety of stuff we rely on.

          There are also regulatory hurdles. Apparently one reason the Texas power outage last year was so bad was policy failure. Wind dropped, electricity demand was high due to weather. No electricity, no power to the gas network, so gas couldn't be pumped. Previously operators could tap gas to run generators at pumping stations, but 'Green' regulations stopped that practice and so Texas's grid came very close to collapse.

    2. Plest Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Guns don't kill, bullets do

      "Guns don't kill people, rappers do!"

      Oh come on, someone had to post it after a lead in like that!

      1. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C

        Re: Guns don't kill, bullets do

        Are you referring to the popular beat combo "Goldie Lookin (Block) Chain" by any chance?

  8. Dave 126 Silver badge

    If I wanted to make a lot of money, I would want to do it because I would want to cash it in for goods and services in a few decades - likely fine food and medical care.

    This suggests that I want to invest in a system that won't inflate the cost (relative to my saved wealth) of medical care. Which suggests I need to invest in today's babies who will grow up to be doctors and all those who help doctors and supply them with goods and services. Schools, hospitals, parks and clean air so they don't emigrate somewhere nicer to live.

    And you know what doctors are like for helping the needy. So it makes sense to invest in a system that leaves fewer people in need, if I want to get a doctor for a reasonable price.

  9. sreynolds Silver badge

    I am nott a communist....

    But what is the point - when it is harming (or allegedly if you work for fox news) the environment , utterly pointless and futile and causing harm to others that actually need the power for running of I don't know the rest of the useful economy and essential services - of even thinking of defending the mining of cryptocurrency?

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: I am nott a communist....

      see #ClimateChangeHoax (yeah on the 'new Twitter')

      [better to take THIS discussion 'off site']

      1. sreynolds Silver badge

        Re: I am nott a communist....

        I saw jigsaw puzzle called 'Flat earth'. What more evidence could anyone need? I don't think it came wih the turtles to support it tho.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: I am nott a communist....

          see icon

  10. Stu J

    Just ban it already

    If the major economies basically decided that any attempt to trade cryptocurrency or to convert them into tangible assets was done with the intent of tax evasion and/or money laundering, the value would crash, people would stop "mining" and wasting valuable electricity and killing the planet in this particularly obscene manner.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Just ban it already

      I agree, funny money should be banned, if only because of the sheer amount of criminal activity that happens because of it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just ban it already

      Not sure on the technical details here but... can the mining be banned i.e. anyone caught using a token mined after a cut off date gets fined. Tokens mined before are okay?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just ban it already

      You answered your own question "tax evasion". It's also anonymous to an extent so it's a nice place to stash large amount of ill-gotten gains. Rich people probably use it and rich people control politicians along with corporations. Also energy companies don't want it banned for obvious reasons and they have a big say in legislation. Sadly it won't be going away anytime soon. All we will get is token gestures and words from government.

      1. DaemonProcess

        Re: Just ban it already

        Its not anonymous at all - people who have stolen crypto and tried to launder it or wash it through privacy tokens and split it through thousands of small transactions have been fully traced and caught.

        As is often the case with new tech, the scammers online who are selling false promises are giving the whole base a bad name. I they are selling trading education then it means they aren't making any money doing it. As for NFTs and metaverse pseudo-land, I'd rather trade a 90s Tamagochi. Who remembers Linden Labs 2nd Life? That was centralised and still went unfashionable.

        So 2% of crypto transactions are reckoned to be fraudulent but against 5% of banking transactions it seems to me that the banks need to be stopped from assisting criminals more than crypto exchanges.

        As for miners - yes its got far too energy intensive due to large corporations trying to hoard all the minted tokens. Proof-of-stake is the way to go. I like the idea of a publicly auditable proof of transaction as a cure for the banker's fraudulent ways.

  11. Howard Sway Silver badge

    So, Jack Dorsey's walking down the road..........

    and suddenly somebody robs him at gunpoint. When the police arrive and he tells them what happened the cops reply "It's not the criminals fault dude, blame the food companies for feeding them."

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: So, Jack Dorsey's walking down the road..........

      Blame the gun company for selling him a gun. Blame the steel company for selling the gun company steel. Blame the mining firm for selling ore to the steel company...

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        Re: So, Jack Dorsey's walking down the road..........

        "It's the boundary conditions of the universe at the time of the Big Bang wot dunnit..."

  12. renniks

    If I had my way, all crypto & social media would be shutdown - better for the planet, better for peoples mental health

  13. Man inna barrel Bronze badge

    Opportunity cost

    Energy is a scarce resource. If significant energy is wasted on cryptocurrency mining, that energy can't be used for something useful. If more capacity is added to meet the increased demand, then presumably all energy consumers end up paying more to cover the costs of building the extra capacity. I don't see why I should subsidise the activities of greedy speculators, who provide no benefit whatsoever to society. And if their increased energy usage actually results in an overall energy shortage, and power cuts, then it is about time to shut them down.

    I have yet to see any solid arguments saying why this inefficient method of processing financial transactions has any advantage over conventional banking. If we think banks are over-charging for international transactions, then that might require regulation, in the same way that most banking activities are heavily regulated.

    1. Jedit Silver badge
      Pint

      "yet to see any solid arguments saying why this has any advantage over conventional banking"

      That's good, because it means two things. First, you're not an idiot. Second, you're not trying to obtain illegal goods, or to defraud someone who is an idiot.

    2. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Opportunity cost

      Yes, the crypto apologists have no leg to stand on. The only time where mining is carbon neutral is when they are using flare gas in a fracking well with no pipeline or other means to capture and use the gas, and that's probably less than 1% of 1% of all bitcoin mining.

  14. heyrick Silver badge

    So it's the fault of those horrible dead dinosaur burning power stations?

    Easy fix - just turn them off. Especially the one that was kept running for the fantasy money extraction.

    The subsequent whining will portray a pretty direct and undeniable link between the complicated maths and the burning of fossil fuels, just for those who haven't already figured it out.

  15. Binraider Silver badge

    On this, the commenter does have a point. In a world with unlimited energy; say, fusion-at-scale, implementing crypto has (few) consequences. But right now there are surely many other applications that are far more useful to reserve limited resources for than whatever flavour magic beans are being traded today.

    The cost of operating will ultimately kill BTC. Other crypto formats that don't have the overhead or transaction time delays are available.

    1. Blank Reg Silver badge

      You're ignoring the massive resources that go in to making all the gear used in mining, and the buildings housing all that gear.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Yep, unless we have unlimited energy and Star Trek style replicators, crypto mining will always be a wasteful activity.

        1. Not Yb

          And, if we have unlimited energy, and Star Trek style replicators, crypto mining will still be a wasteful activity.

          1. DS999 Silver badge

            In that future world people will be too busy having holodeck sex 24x7 to care about cryptocurrency.

  16. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Joke

    Healthy bitcoin mining?

    If we could build bitcoin miners that were efficient enough that they could be powered by walking on a stairmaster then maybe the entire human race would become healthy again? But if you are walking on a stairmaster machine for 12 hours a day then you will be releasing a lot of CO2 (your mouth and bottom).

  17. Marty McFly Silver badge
    Happy

    Dang it Reg!

    We really need a popcorn icon. Every time you do an article on Bitcoin, the commentators line up on both sides and throw barbed rhetoric at each other. Some of us are entertained and need a big bowl of popcorn.

    1. that one in the corner

      Re: Dang it Reg!

      Looks like we need to start throwing some of that popcorn onto the heads of those in the pro-crypto seats, they are being uncharacteristically quiet. No fun at all.

  18. Spasticus Autisticus
    Happy

    It would be interesting . .

    . . to know how much energy the 'normal' bank/money systems require to keep working.

    Also the stock exchanges in New York, London, Paris, Munich . . . . everybody talk about pop muzik :)

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: It would be interesting . .

      It would be interesting indeed, but also not terribly relevant. The cost of exchanges is the cost required to process transactions such as trading conventional currencies, buying and selling securities, etc. If Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, etc. are used, the cost of creating those currencies and the cost of the distributed ledger calculations would be in addition to the cost of traditional transactions. In that sense, we could learn what the baseline energy cost is for those transactions, and add crypto costs to get the full trade cost analysis in kilowatt-hours (or whatever), which would probably be eye-popping, and the added cost of using cryptocurrency will only go up if they gain more traction.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It would be interesting . .

      It's a good question. A lot of UK "industrial" demand has shifted from actual manufacturing to datacentres involved in service provision; hence total UK demand on the whole (adjusted for population growth) has remained relatively constant over the past 40 years.

      Demand that used to be sucked up by aluminium foundries, steelworks etc has moved south to the datacentres.

      I don't have the data at a sector level but can see it at Grid Supply point; and it is consistent with where big datacentres are clustered. I will ask this very question to the good people in ESO at their next round of Future Energy Scenarios.

  19. msobkow Silver badge

    Blame-gaming attempt at deflection DENIED.

    The power companies only produced what the load demands. Bitcoin mining in non-green jurisdictions should carry international charges of willful destruction of the environment, and carry 10 years in a Chinese Gulag as penalty...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "and carry 10 years in a Chinese Gulag as penalty..."

      Soo.. your solution to wasting juice on crypto is force the miners to make cheap Chinese tat?

      1. msobkow Silver badge

        People would get upset it we just offed them. :P

  20. M.V. Lipvig Bronze badge

    Consodering

    that power companies are installing green power as fast as the physical components can be manufactured and still are only around 5 percent green, and crypto mining uses far more power than can be produced in a green manner, and crypto's power increase is going up aster than green power can be installed, yes... crypto miners are responsible, not the power companies. Ban all crypto and shut down thr servers mining it, and suddenly a much larger percentage of power is green. Shut down cloud computing networks, and see a similar jump.

  21. MrGreen

    Distraction

    The energy distraction narrative is working perfectly.

    Bitcoin energy consumption is less than the banking system, less than gold mining, less than tumble dryers, less than Christmas lights.

    Look at what they’re doing, not what they’re saying.

    1. that one in the corner

      Re: Distraction

      How about some comparative costs on a per-transaction or per-capita-actively-involved basis? How does it compare then?

      Only a guess, but pretty sure there are more people getting more useful results out of tumble dryers than there are involved in cryptocurrency use.

      1. MrGreen

        Re: Distraction

        Bitcoin’s total transaction value in 2021 was 20% more than Visa. Therefore I believe your view that people are getting more benefit out of tumble driers is incorrect. This was Bloomberg’s findings but doesn’t include all other Altcoins.

        Bitcoin uses 58% renewable energy. The U.K. only produces about 39% renewable energy and the that number is falling rapidly due to the unfavourable weather.

        Bitcoin uses less than half the energy of the banking system or gold industries.

        Bitcoin is a digital store of value better than gold. Instant transactions can be run on Bitcoin rails, utilising the Lightning Network, which is better than the banking system.

  22. Ahab Returns

    Here's an idea. How about we make some sort of physical token, maybe call it 'coin' or 'note' and distribute it to people so they can pay for things over and over again, without having to make more coin or note (apart from periodically when the old stuff gets destroyed or lost).

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022