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Is the crypto boom contributing to climate change? | TICKER VIEWS

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Bitcoin cryptocurrency and climate change with world on fire

Elon Musk recently tweeted that Tesla is going to pull support for Bitcoin over environmental concerns. This sent Bitcoin prices tumbling, and also has raised questions about the sustainability of cryptocurrency.  So, can cryptocurrency ever be sustainable?

Why does Bitcoin mining use so much energy? 

When people speak about the energy cost of cryptocurrencies, they’re usually talking about the impact of mining Bitcoin.

Bitcoin miners use a computer to solve increasingly difficult algorithms which form the blockchain. The trick is to get all miners to agree on the same history of transactions for the blockchain. 

This mining process requires a significant amount of computing power, which in turn requires large amounts of electricity. This can pose an environmental issue when the miners use fossil fuels.

However, the large amounts of energy consumption required to mine Bitcoin is majorly a product of its increasing popularity, rather than being an inherent design element, says Liam Bussell from BANXA. 

“If we could go back to 2013 you could mine with a computer at home and it would be profitable. It would not be today, because this hardware arms race is driven by incentives. The mining machines get more and more powerful.”

Liam Bussell, Head of Communications at BANXA

Is a carbon neutral cryptocurrency possible?

With this in mind Bussell says a carbon neutral cryptocurrency is theoretically possible if the miners use clean energy rather than fossil fuels. 

Better, more energy-efficient blockchain mechanisms also could help this transition. 

Although Bitcoin mining does require large amounts of electricity, it’s ultimately up to the individual miner whether they use renewable energy to power this process. 

How does Bitcoin’s carbon footprint compare to traditional currency? 

On the other hand, it’s important that we keep these discussions in the perspective of our current systems. 

Rory Manchee from Brave New Coin argues that traditional fiat currencies also use considerable amounts of energy to mine and process the materials used in the production of notes and coins. 

So how does Bitcoin stack up? 

Let’s take VISA as an example. Digiconomist reports that Bitcoin uses far more energy than VISA. Also, the energy used by VISA is relatively “greener” than the energy used by the Bitcoin mining network. 

“If we“We could just realise that the current banking system uses vastly more power,  and H&M and Nike get cotton from China and that damages the environment too. If we look at this objectively, with bias, blockchain doesn’t use that much electricity.”

Liam Bussell, Head of CommuLIAM BUSSELL, HEAD OF COMMUNICATIONS AT BANXA

How can cryptocurrencies reduce their energy output?

The reason that Bitcoin mining is so energy-intensive is majorly down to a process called proof-of-work.

However, some experts are already in the process of replacing this with the more energy-efficient proof-of-state. In this model, coin owners create the blocks rather than the miners. This negates the need for the computational heavy-lifting we currently see.

Are all cryptocurrencies equally harmful to the environment? 

Different types of cryptocurrency are mined in different ways. Therefore, some currencies are more energy-reliant than others.

For example, Ethereum mining uses far less energy than Bitcoin mining.

Ethereum also has plans to change its proof-of-work algorithm to an energy efficient proof-of-stake algorithm called Casper. 

Natasha is an Associate Producer at ticker NEWS with a Bachelor of arts from Monash University. She has previously worked at Sky News Australia and Monash University as an Online Content Producer.

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Crypto

FTX demands U.S. politicians return campaign contributions

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Crypto exchange FTX is asking politicians to return the tens of millions of dollars in campaign contributions, given by Sam Bankman-Fried, before the company’s implosion in November

The company is sending confidential letters to political beneficiaries, asking for the money to be returned by the end of the month.

If they don’t, the company reserves the right to seek repayments through court action.

The donations are estimated to be as much as $93 million.

They were made to politicians and political causes across the political spectrum and one in three members of the current U.S. congress allegedly received contributions from Bankman-Fried’s orbit.

Some beneficiaries have tried to cancel out the scandal by making equivalent donations to charities, but FTX Debtors warn that this does not prevent them from seeking recovery.

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Business

A British digital currency “later this decade”

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The Bank of England and Britain’s finance ministry think the UK is likely to need to create a central bank digital currency later this decade.

“On the basis of our work to date, the Bank of England and HM Treasury judge that it is likely a digital pound will be needed in the future,” the Telegraph quoted BoE Governor Andrew Bailey and finance minister Jeremy Hunt as saying in the joint report.

“It is too early to commit to build the infrastructure for one, but we are convinced that further preparatory work is justified,” the Telegraph quoted the report saying.

The BoE declined to comment on the Telegraph article, but said a joint consultation on CBDC issues would be published shortly.

A government source said the report would be published next week.

BoE Deputy Governor Jon Cunliffe is due to give a speech on Tuesday to update the finance industry on the BoE’s CBDC work.

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Crypto

Sam Bankman-Fried attempting to resolve bail conditions dispute

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Sam Bankman-Fried is in talks with U.S. prosecutors to resolve a dispute over his bail conditions

The 30-year-old former billionaire has been blocked from contacting employees of FTX or his Alameda Research hedge fund, after prosecutors raised concerns he may tamper with witnesses.

Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty and is under house arrest at his parents’ California home.

Once worth an estimated $26 billion, Bankman-Fried was arrested in December after FTX collapsed.

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