Wednesday, November 29, 2017 by Ethan Huff
As the online cryptocurrency known as Bitcoin reaches record price highs, many people are now asking themselves: Is Bitcoin really where the financial sector is headed? Not if you care about the environment, suggests shocking new data compiled as part of Digiconomist‘s “Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index” (BECI).
This eye-opening measure of how much energy it takes to “mine” Bitcoin suggests that, especially from a global perspective, energy consumption requirements to keep the cryptocurrency going are completely off the charts. As of November 20, 2017, the estimated amount of energy needed annually to mine Bitcoin currently stands at 29.05 terawatt hours (TWh), or the equivalent of about 0.13 percent of total global electricity consumption.
This might sound like a relatively small amount at first glance. But if you calculate it out, as the BECI has already done, this massive amount of energy comes into focus. In essence, the amount of energy necessary to mine Bitcoin for a year is now higher than the total electricity use of 159 individual countries, including Ireland and Nigeria.
If Bitcoin was its own country, in other words, it would rank 61st in terms of its electricity consumption. And the energy needs of the whole operation are only expected to increase until every last one of the 21 million total Bitcoin “coins” have been “unearthed” from their digital treasure chests.
“The machines performing the ‘work’ are consuming huge amounts of energy while doing so,” explains Digiconomist about how the proof-of-work algorithm for Bitcoin mining works.
“The Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index was created to provide insight into this amount, and raise awareness on the unsustainability of the proof-of-work algorithm.”
As Natural News has previously reported, the so-called “work” that Bitcoin mining machines perform isn’t actually real work. It’s essentially just a jumble of random equations that keep the system functional, but that accomplish precisely nothing.
It would be one thing if Bitcoin mining equations were being used for something useful like making the blockchain technology upon which the Bitcoin system runs more efficient, for instance. But in truth, these equations amount to little more than wheel-spinning simply for the sake of “doing something” – a fruitless barrier of entry, of sorts, that contributes to Bitcoin’s artificial “value.”
What’s even more unsettling about the Bitcoin mining system is the fact that energy consumption levels continue to soar right alongside the cryptocurrency’s meteoric price increases. Just in the past month, the BECI reveals, energy consumption levels have increased by nearly 30 percent. Based on these current trends, Bitcoin mining will consume every last spark of electricity on the planet by the year 2020 – just three years from now.
The amount of energy being used right now to power Bitcoin mining is enough to power the homes and lives of 2.4 million Americans, which is higher than the entire population of Houston, Texas. Put differently, this is more than the amount of energy consumed by the following 12 states: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming.
In dollar terms, the total globe cost of mining Bitcoin is estimated to be around $1.5 billion. However, many experts believe this figure to be too low because it assumed that the bulk of Bitcoin mining is taking place in areas of the world with inexpensive electricity costs, which is unlikely to be the case.
“Mining power is high and getting higher, thanks to a computational arms race,” says the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
“Recall that the required number of zeros at the beginning of a hash is tweaked biweekly to adjust the difficulty of creating a block–and more zeros means more difficulty.”
Sources for this article include: