Why are there calls to ban Bitcoin mining?
Bitcoin, Ethereum and other PoW cryptocurrencies create significant carbon emissions with each transaction. According to the Digiconomist Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index, a single transaction creates 1259 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions, which is the same carbon footprint of a trans-Atlantic flight from London to New York and back again.
To look at it another way, a single financial transaction using Visa consumes 1.5Wh of electricity on average. Digiconomist says that the average energy use per Bitcoin transaction is 2258 kWh, which is enough to power a single US household for two and a half months.
Alex de Vries, founder of Digiconomist, told Tech Monitor that the Bitcoin network alone generates 200-quintrillion “guesses” a day as part of a numbers game to create one block.
“You have all these machines in the network effectively playing a massive game of guessing numbers and the only one who guesses correctly gets to rate the next block,” he explains. “That’s a huge amount of energy you need to do that to create those new blocks.”
He explains that per year there are 100 million Bitcoin transactions, which is relatively low. However, the carbon footprint to generate new blocks is over 100 megatons of carbon dioxide. “That’s twice the size of Greece’s [carbon footprint],” he says.
The Bitcoin network also uses specialised hardware that creates 386 grams of electronic waste (on average) per transaction on the Bitcoin blockchain. “This is the equivalent to the equipment weight of two iPhones,” explains De Vries.