Bitcoin Mining Emissions Can Worsen Global Warming

Nov 09, 2018 at 0:22

A new study by Hawaii-based researchers said Bitcoin can heat up the globe to the pre-industrial 2 degree celsius temperature even as the timeline for its adoption compares with those technologies that took a while before being accepted by the market.

The electricity requirements of Bitcoin have created considerable difficulties, and extensive online discussion about where to locate Bitcoin mining facilities.

The study led by Camilo Mora, an associate professor of geography in the College of Social Sciences at UH Mānoa, attributed this forecast to the massive electricity requirements of Bitcoin.

“The team found that if Bitcoin is incorporated, even at the slowest rate at which other technologies have been incorporated, its cumulative emissions will be enough to warm the planet above 2°C in just 22 years. If incorporated at the average rate of other technologies, it is closer to 16 years,” read the statement by the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, citing the study published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change.

This has stirred discussion on where to put the facilities or rings that compute the proof-of-work of Bitcoin.

“With the ever-growing devastation created by hazardous climate conditions, humanity is coming to terms with the fact that climate change is as real and personal as it can be,” Mora said.

“Clearly, any further development of cryptocurrencies should critically aim to reduce electricity demand, if the potentially devastating consequences of 2°C of global warming are to be avoided,” he added.

Based on the data, the researchers estimated that the use of bitcoins in the year 2017 emitted 69 million metric tons of CO2.