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Bitcoin Could Cost Us Our Clean-Energy Future  ↦

If you’re like me…

…you’ve probably been ignoring the bitcoin phenomenon for years — because it seemed too complex, far-fetched, or maybe even too libertarian. But if you have any interest in a future where the world moves beyond fossil fuels, you and I should both start paying attention now.

We should be paying attention because the energy usage behind Bitcoin is astounding.

What they might not have accounted for is how much of an energy suck the computer network behind bitcoin could one day become. Simply put, bitcoin is slowing the effort to achieve a rapid transition away from fossil fuels. What’s more, this is just the beginning. Given its rapidly growing climate footprint, bitcoin is a malignant development, and it’s getting worse.

Today, each bitcoin transaction requires the same amount of energy used to power nine homes in the U.S. for one day. The aggregate computing power of the bitcoin network is nearly 100,000 times larger than the world’s 500 fastest supercomputers combined. The total energy use of this web of hardware is huge — an estimated 31 terawatt-hours per year.


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