The virtual mining that contaminates like the real
Cryptocurrency mining generates a high level of pollution due to the high energy consumption of computers. It is estimated that this excessive performance of the processors will end up consuming the same energy as whole countries.
If you ask us what comes to mind when you imagine a mine and the pollution it produces, surely, we would imagine [tons of coal] staining everything and drilling machines destroying the earth, right? What if you knew that there is a type of mining that contaminates a lot and, nevertheless, does not produce any apparent waste? We are talking about the so-called Bitcoin mining.
For those who do not know what Bitcoin is, it is a cryptocurrency, a digital medium of exchange. It is the most popular today. The cryptocurrencies have the same basic function as any other currency, but they have certain characteristics that make them very attractive: they are not tied to any government or bank, so they lack intermediaries; they are produced directly by users and private companies thanks to the blockchain technology, or chain of blocks; it is impossible to falsify them thanks to its cryptographic system; the transactions are irreversible; They offer absolute anonymity, and they guarantee that no one can freeze your account or take your money.
Well, what does all this have to do with pollution? How are some calculations made inside computers to pollute if it is all virtual? It has to do with the large energy consumption resulting from the creation of bitcoins and the operations carried out with the cryptocurrency. Bitcoin mining requires very powerful computers and a number of very high computational operations, and the process must be in operation day and night without stopping.
Now, add to this costly process the greed of the people, who, obviously, want more profits, and for that you need more computers, because you only have a performance limit. Then the mining equipment of a single computer happens to be formed by 10, 20, or even 100. To say that the energy consumption goes off falls short to describe it.
China, a benchmark country in Bitcoin mining
For some time now, the impact that bitcoin mining has on energy consumption has been suspected. However, it has not been until the scientific journal Joule has carried out a serious study when the problem has actually been discovered. Apparently, if bitcoin mining continues to grow, it will consume the same energy as countries like Holland, Ireland, or even Austria within a few years. The most pessimistic estimates say that these levels could even be achieved by the end of this year.
Bearing in mind that most of the world’s energy production still comes from non-renewable energies, such as fossils, this increase in consumption increases pollution exponentially. To make things worse today, most of the big bitcoin operations are in China. Although the Asian country is realizing advances in the use of renewable energy, it still uses a lot of coal for its energy supply.
As if that were not enough, we must highlight an important detail, here we are talking about bitcoin. There are dozens of cryptocurrencies and new ones appear practically every week. Each and every one of them follows the same mining process as bitcoin. None has its popularity, but even something as small as a drop can overflow a reservoir if it is at the limit. We run out of time and nobody has a solution, at least for now.