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Environmental Impacts of Bitcoin Mining Rivals Beef Production and Natural Gas Extraction: Study

New research conducted at the University of New Mexico showed that Bitcoin mining is environmentally unsustainable, resulting in climate damage equivalent to about 35% of its market value.

Bitcoin (BTC), the most controversial cryptocurrency in the worldhas a greater impact on the climate than that caused by beef production and almost as big as the environmental impact caused by crude oil, new research has found.

Appeared in the magazine last week Scientific Reportsthe new to learn from the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque assessed the energy-related climate damage from bitcoin mining as part of its total market cap. Analysis of Bitcoin’s environmental damage over a 5-year period – from 2016 to 2021 – produced worrying results.

Researchers found that the climate damage per coin from Bitcoin increased in proportion to the growth of the industry during this period. Additionally, environmental degradation exceeded the price of each coin created, accounting for an average of 35% of its market value over the past five years. That means every $1 of BTC resulted in $0.35 in global climate damage. In 2020, the damage reached 82% of the cryptocurrency’s market value.

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The environmental devastation of Bitcoin mining is comparable to that of beef production, which results in damage equivalent to 33% of its value, and natural gas extraction, which averages around 46%.

The reason for the devastating environmental impact of bitcoin mining lies in this technology Dependence on computing processes to verify transactions, known as proof-of-work mining.

For a bitcoin purchase to solidify, it must make it onto the blockchain — but before that can happen, it must be confirmed by the overseers, the miners. They oversee the process and ensure that verification of each transaction is performed without intervention before transactions are grouped into blocks, which are then added to the blockchain. Entire hardware warehouses are dedicated to this and consume enormous amounts of electricity every day.

To make matters worse, bitcoin farms are often located in countries that do heavily dependent on fossil fuels, such as Kazakhstan, Iran and Kosovo, raising concerns among environmentalists. Here, the already energy-intensive process has an even greater environmental impact than in countries that diversify their energy sources into renewable energies or even nuclear energy.

It is estimated that bitcoin mining generates between 22 and 22.9 million tons of carbon emissions annually, equivalent to the emissions of countries like Jordan and Sri Lanka, or about 1% of global electricity consumption. A to learn published in 2021 even suggested that BTC emissions alone are pushing global warming past 2°C.

Fortunately, there are many better alternatives the most well-known cryptocurrency in the world. Other cryptos use on average 99% less power than Bitcoin.

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