The real gold were the profits we made along the way
Who would have thought that spending computing power and electricity for no benefit to society would be bad for the planet? I'm shocked, shocked I tell you!
Far from being the "digital gold" some claim, Bitcoin's relative climate change impact is greater than the beef industry, and over seven times more than actual gold mining. Economic researchers compared the environmental impact of Bitcoin – created by using computing brute force to crack complex algorithmic puzzles – against …
You mean like DRM (Digital Restriction Manglement) ?
It is debatable that it currently achieves anything useful for ANYONE at all. All it does is waste power globally, and generate additional greenhouse gases.
Intel's daughter company owns most of the Content protection patent space (e.g. High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP)), so maybe it benefits them.
The calculations for both Beef and Bitcoin are wildly (I want to say inaccurate, but intentionally misleading may be a better fit).
Which is about par for the course when economists stray out of their own field. The way they abuse math may be why they have a hundreds year history of failed market making. It certainly is an ill fit to science, especially environmental science.
So for one, the power usage is an estimate of an estimate of an estimate. Repeatedly rounded generously upward at every step. Due to increasing use of advanced ASICs the power use for hashing is lower, Also, the back of the napkin estimates used for energy sources is sketchy.
What you have is a crayon sketch of mathematics, an obvious conclusion, and popular buzzwords to boot the virality of the clickbait.
That said I agree that Bitcoin needs to be shoved into this century, as it's proof-of-work system is a dinosaur even among it's own kind. That may well destroy it's valuation though, so don't expect the whales to just roll over on this one. Taxing the crap out of Proof-Of-Work based assets would probably work better than comparing it to the beef or coal or whatever the villain of week industry is.
But again, economist, so someone eyeballs deep in a field that can't even keep the markets and the economy running smoothly, that has warring factions with opposing explanations of almost everything, and can't predict the markets on either the short or long term.
"Well, I console myself with the fact that rising energy prices have put a stake through that massively ecologically irresponsible idea too."
Fact check - the actual mining hash rate is at an all time high and climbing... seems that bitcoin mining is actually using alternative and even free energy sources ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Whether the energy used for any sort of crypto mining is free, renewable or just good old "electricity" is irrelevant. It is still an utter waste of a valuable resource. Now add in all the energy and resources that go into making the actual mining rigs. It is an even greater colossal waste of resources.
Utter waste of energy: Las Vegas comes to mind. Computer gaming. Flying for holidays. It's just what one defines as useless. Most here would rather win in Vegas than put their good money into crypto I guess.. - just pick your poison, I don't mind either way. It's just the hostility that surprises me.
Not sure why you're downvoted, because you're right.
Bitcoin mining is the most green of all industries; using stranded energy (otherwise impossible to use), taking out methane emissions (net negative carbon offset), using energy when there's a surplus, not using it when there's a deficit etc.
Those that criticize bitcoin energy use are also ignoring the energy the entire banking system uses, (estimates vary, but it's an order of magnitude bigger than what bitcoin mining consumes) which bitcoin has the potential to largely replace.
"Not sure why you're downvoted"
I do... lol. The Reg is self-confessed anti crypto platform. I like their stance against all things somewhat incorrect in the tech sphere, but I guess they need to educate themselves a bit regarding bitcoin. Everyone needs their good time to find out that bitcoin is not "crypto", but something entirely different. Let's give them a few years to find out. Just like most everyone else I guess...
So an Anonymous Coward pulls some arguments out of his sleeve and thinks that this makes a convincing case against a serious and well-documented study published in Nature? How about you invest a few years into higher education, become so brilliant that your PhD topic makes into the Nature journal, and then you explain to us, with proper fact-based arguments, why said study is mistaken. Calling others liars is a bit over the top. Doing so without any meaningful arguments is just despicable.
"........The calculations for both Beef and Bitcoin are wildly (I want to say inaccurate, but intentionally misleading may be a better fit)........"
I can't speak for the figures related to BitCoin, because it is a subject that I know little about, but the figures widely bandied about for cattle and their share of the damage are certainly "apocryphal, or at least, wildly inaccurate".
Cattle are blamed for producing methane, but when you look at the real science, you find that it is produced ultimately from CO2 already in the atmosphere and is shortlived (around 12 years) - it's part of the biogenic carbon cycle (https://clear.ucdavis.edu/explainers/why-methane-cattle-warms-climate-differently-co2-fossil-fuels).
The figure of 30+% comes from adding on all the peripheral activity surrounding producing beef and dairy products - transport, processing, packaging, more transport etc etc, much of which would apply equally (or probably more) to any vegetable crop that would be grown to replace beef and dairy in the world's diet if we were to stop farming cattle.
When the 33% is broken down and the actual emissions from cattle are separated out, the true figure for GHG emissions and damage to the climate from cattle farming appears to be something a little over 3%.
The misrepresentation is more of 'bigcorp' trying to deflect attention away from their squandering of energy, and production of CO2, which remains the single biggest and most damaging GHG (and as much is produced from fossil fuels, is all new to the atmosphere, so adding to CO2 levels). Pretending that it is all the fault of cows and cutting out livestock farming will make the sum total of bugger all difference.
Food production (including livestock) is essential for human survival, crypto generation isn't, and is massively wasteful in a way which makes cattle methane look very insignificant.
I think it is correct to include all emissions connected with an activity, in the case of beef also the fertiliser for the feed production for example.
Substituting beef with pulses (to get essential amino acids) would reduce emissions significantly, if you like to eat it is a different question.
".....Substituting beef with pulses (to get essential amino acids) would reduce emissions significantly...."
If you take your own advice, and include all emissions associated with the commodity, I very much doubt if there is much difference.
Grassland locks up considerable amounts of carbon in the form of soil organic matter. Plough it up and cultivate it, and thereby aerating the soil accelerates the decomposition of the organic matter - combining the carbon with oxygen from the air to produce more CO2. Added to which, the transportation and processing emissions for pulse crops is likely to be very similar to that of beef, with the added fossil fuels burned in the process of tilling the soil, planting and husbandry of the crop, and the harvesting (and probably drying) before it can be sent for processing for food.
Those who push the vegan agenda seem to miss all this detail from their calculations, and end up with the wrong answers every time.
Of course your argument favors the conclusion of the study reported in the article, since if correct it lowers the relative environmental impact of beef production, making Bitcoin even worse in comparison.
(I have no agenda vis-a-vis beef production myself. I eat beef, and have not reviewed the relevant research in any detail.)
So says someone obviously earning an Ill gotten living off crypto.
The power consumption associated with mining, even in an asic, is well known. That is all demand that would not have been there in the absence of crypto.
When we have working fusion and/or over abundance of renewables, fine, have your stupid magic bean token system.
The rest of us would rather not see the frivolous use of limited resources on the major enabler for digital crime.
I can claim your reply has wasted energy, as has mine. But an infintesimal qty compared to how much has been burned by Crypto in the 10 seconds to write this.
My opinion of crypto (kill it with fire) because of its primarily criminal use is shared by a lot of people. Ransomware enablers are not welcome. So that includes software.like Windows, technology like Crypto, and Nation States like North Korea.
You so nearly had it right.
--Which is about par for the course when economists stray out of their own field--
Which is about par for the course when economists are still breathing (once that ceases things improve)
--That said I agree that Bitcoin needs to be shoved into this century,--
No need for "into this century"
Isn’t it interesting how all these studies compare Bitcoin with other things they don’t agree with, like oil or beef farming?
Why didn’t they compare usage against the fiat banking system, tumble driers or Christmas lights, air conditioning or the aviation industry?
Ultimately the figures used in this study are incorrect. Claiming Bitcoin mining is worse for the environment than gold mining is laughable. These figures have been presented for many years.
The author clearly doesn’t understand that Bitcoin and crypto currencies are not the same. This basic flaw in his understanding undermines the credibility of any of the data presented.
Vegans promote the vegan lifestyle as a way to save the planet, but I see online Vegan stores that accept Bitcoin for payment, and there was 'VeganCoin' as yet another bunch of hipsters shouted "I want a slice!",. .. and well, they are rather talking out of both sides of their mouth at the same time.
All encryption uses CPU, wastes electricity, generates heat and melts baby seals. Indiscriminate and unwarranted use of https could be doing even more harm. Accessing banking site over https is justified and sensible, watching cat videos over https is pointless and harmful to the environment.