The Surprising Environmental Effects of Cryptocurrencies

According to a new study published in the British journal Nature Sustainability, the mining of cryptocurrencies has consumed more energy than the production of tangible metals between January 2016 and June 2018. The author of the study, Max Krause, has said the his primary intent was to raise awareness around the harmful effects of the creation processes of cryptocurrencies. He shared, “Just because something is digitally processed does not mean it does not consume a considerable amount of energy.”

Cryptocurrency is the e-cash currency within a decentralized monetary system that is managed online as opposed to being regulated by a government or bank. In recent years, the industry has seen an unprecedented frenzy surrounding the new-age fiscal fad. Bitcoin remains the world’s most popular cryptocurrency. In December 2017, the value of a single bitcoin reached $19,666, it has now fallen to $6,410. According to the recently published research, the computer processing needed to “mine” these currencies are consuming harmful amounts of electricity.

Krause and co-author Thabet Tolaymat have revealed that it takes more energy to produce $1 worth of Bitcoin than $1 worth of precious metals, like copper or gold. They have also estimated that, during the 2.5-year period, the prime cryptocurrency networks (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Monero) generated between 3 million and 15 million tons of carbon emissions. The study has been published on the heels of many official reports with similar findings. One report, conducted by the University of Hawaii Manoa, found that the creation process of Bitcoin could produce enough emissions to raise global temperatures by 2 degrees Celsius by 2033. As climate change becomes more of a dire epidemic, it might be wise for cryto-enthusiasts to think twice before they fill their e-wallets.