Bitcoin pollutes more than oil drilling or beef production

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  • Cryptocurrency mining is multiplying its ecological footprint, according to a new study

  • CO2 emissions associated with this activity have multiplied by 126 in the last five years

Bitcoin pollutes more than oil extraction or beef production

Cryptocurrency mining has an environmental impact comparable to some of the most polluting activities on the planet. According to a new study published this Thursday in the journal 'Scientific Reports', bitcoin mining has a similar or even higher ecological footprint than oil extraction > or the beef production. “Cryptocurrency mining is not becoming more sustainable over time, but rather becoming more climate-damaging,” the research warns.

The analysis assesses the ecological footprint of bitcoin mining – the process of generating and storing these cryptocurrencies – between January 2016 and December 2021. In 2020 alone, bitcoin used an average of 75.4 terawatt hours of electricity; more than what countries like Austria (69.9) or Portugal (48.4) consume. That year, moreover, it is estimated that for every dollar generated by The equivalent of $1.50 in global climate damage was generated on the market for this cryptocurrency.

“Globally, the mining or production of Bitcoin it is using huge amounts of electricity, mostly from fossil fuels like coal and natural gas.This is causing huge amounts of air pollution and carbon emissions, which has a negative impact on our global climate and our health,” explains Benjamin A. Jones, a researcher at the University of New Mexico and an author of this study. .

Emissions on the rise

The analysis also indicates that CO emissions2 associated with bitcoin mining have multiplied by 126in the last five years. In 2016, mining a cryptocurrency emitted 0.9 tons of carbon dioxide. In 2021, this process produced about 113 tons per coin. A recent study also estimates that the emissions generated by bitcoin mining are comparable to those generated by cities as large as Vienna, Hamburg or Las Vegas.

Based on these data, the scientific community warns –once again– of the worrying environmental impact of this digital industry. Experts warn that with the current production model, 'digital currencies' are not sustainable. For this reason, after the publication of this latest scientific study, the researchers call for “significant changes” in cryptocurrency mining, including the possible regulation of these processes. to minimize associated serious environmental damage.  

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