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The Hidden Cost of Crypto

The recent heatwave in Texas has cast light on the massive energy waste and environmental damage caused by bitcoin mining, belying its reputation as the currency of the future.

Bitcoin mining’s staggering electricity consumption

  • Riot Platforms earned $31.7 million simply by briefly powering down during the heatwave, revealing the sheer scale of electricity required for bitcoin mining.

The recent heatwave in Texas highlights the folly of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and the damage their mining does to the environment. As the article describes, bitcoin mining company Riot Platforms made over $31 million in August simply by powering down their massive computing operations during peak energy demand.

This reveals two major problems. First, it shows how wasteful and energy-intensive bitcoin mining is. Riot was using so much electricity that just briefly pausing operations earned them millions in credits. This is energy that could have gone to Texan homes trying to stay cool in the extreme heat.

Second, it demonstrates bitcoin’s conflict with environmental goals. Bitcoin mining guzzles electricity, much of it produced using fossil fuels, at a time when we should be reducing carbon emissions and switching to clean energy. Per the article, Texas has bent over backwards to attract miners by offering incentives and tax breaks. However, every megawatt used for bitcoin is a megawatt that cannot be used to meet growing electricity demand in a sustainable manner.

“every megawatt used for bitcoin is a megawatt that cannot be used to meet growing electricity demand in a sustainable manner.

Undermining environmental goals

  • Bitcoin mining is completely at odds with the transition to clean energy, as it uses vast amounts of electricity from fossil fuel sources.
  • Texas incentives for miners divert energy capacity away from renewable power needed to meet growing demand sustainably.
  • As heatwaves increase with climate change, bitcoin’s electricity hunger will increasingly contend with home air conditioning needs.

Cryptocurrencies were supposed to be the money of the future. Yet the way they are currently mined, using ever more powerful computers, means their environmental footprint is massive and growing. With climate change accelerating, we cannot afford such waste. There are calls to move bitcoin to a less energy-intensive mining model, but progress is slow.

The events in Texas provide a warning. As heatwaves become more common, the high demand for air conditioning will collide with bitcoin miners’ voracious appetite. It highlights the need to rethink cryptocurrencies’ mining practices and align them with environmental goals. Otherwise, bitcoin risks becoming a relic of the fossil fuel age, not the revolutionary technology it was once thought to be.

“bitcoin risks becoming a relic of the fossil fuel age, not the revolutionary technology it was once thought to be.


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