If bitcoin were to become a true global transactional currency, the electricity needed to mine it alone would generate enough carbon dioxide to push the planet beyond 2 degrees Celsius of warming within a quarter-century.
The creation of new bitcoin requires immense computational effort, and therefore enormous amounts of energy. “If this takes off it will be something that we will not be able to control,” said Camilo Mora, associate professor at the University of Hawaii and lead author of the analysis published this week in Nature Climate Change.
Mora’s research often uses large data sets to tackle far-off problems. He’s previously drawn attention for projecting how often in the future heat will become deadly, and that, by 2047, cold years will be hotter than today’s hottest years.
The authors specify that they aren’t predicting the future for Bitcoin, only trying to think through the side effects of dramatic success, said Randi Rollins, a Ph.D. student who studies the impacts of climate change. “This type of analysis should be performed when any new technology is under development,” she said. “Being aware of the consequences of future technology development could go a long way in reducing emissions and preventing further damage to the environment.” See more...