Bitcoin Mining Energy Illustrates that the ‘Net is not “Weightless”

A good article from LiveScience discussing a recent study on the impact Bitcoin mining is having on energy use by computers.

The original Reference: Bitcoin’s mining energy problem:

In this article, author Alex De Vreis considers several aspects of Bitcoin mining, which requires that computers solve ever-more cpu-intensive problems to create new currency. To quote:

The Bitcoin network can be estimated to consume at least 2.55 gigawatts of electricity currently, and potentially 7.67 gigawatts in the future, making it comparable with countries such as Ireland (3.1 gigawatts) and Austria (8.2 gigawatts). Economic models tell us that Bitcoin’s electricity consumption will gravitate toward the latter number. A look at Bitcoin miner production estimates suggests that this number could already be reached in 2018.

In other words, 1/2 of one precent of the world’s electricity is currently being devoted to creating cryptocurrency for a tiny, tiny fraction of the world’s population. It’s basically a stealth tax on everyone.

De Vries also points out that higher costs won’t shut everyone down for a while. Initially, it will just create incentive to steal power and cpu cycles. From LiveScience:

De Vries also pointed out that when bitcoin mining becomes more costly than profitable, that doesn’t mean all the bitcoin miners will stop. Some miners, he pointed out, might steal electricity or otherwise figure out ways to mine bitcoin at no personal cost. For example, he said, one researcher mined $8,000 to $10,000 worth of bitcoin on a university supercomputer, costing the university about $150,000. Other, less-nefarious miners, he wrote, might keep mining for reasons like anonymity or libertarian ideology.

If you have an energy-hungry website – built according to pure “design” principles and ignoring the impact the site makes on energy and people (no Ux?) you’re a mini-bitcoin. Ignoring the effects of your virtual design – just because it is noiseless and virtual – is a cop-out.



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