Bitcoin Opponents Who Engage in Sterile Debates About Its Environmental Impact Miss the Point

Bitcoin is here to stay. So we need to work constructively to make things better.

Written by Sylvain Saurel - In Bitcoin We Trust

The environmental impact of Bitcoin and its energy consumption are topics that frequently come to the fore. Typically, they follow a Bitcoin bull run. When the price of Bitcoin is below $4K, as it was in March 2020, none of Bitcoin's opponents seem to be bothered by Bitcoin's environmental impact.

However, when the price of Bitcoin reaches a new ATH (All-Time High) close to $65K in April 2021, this seems to become a crucial issue.

It seems that these opponents of Bitcoin only wake up when the prospect of Bitcoin's total success reaches them. All Bitcoiners already knew that Bitcoin's success is inevitable. For the naysayers, it was when they saw Bitcoin's market cap exceed $1 trillion for the first time in February 2021 that things became clear.

Bitcoin energy consumption is a topic that comes to the forefront every time its price reaches new ATH

With over 100 million users on its network, Bitcoin is following a growth pattern comparable to that of the early days of the Internet. Seeing Bitcoin reach one billion users by 2030 is a more than likely prospect.

So Bitcoin's opponents tell you that the Proof-of-Work algorithm, which is at the heart of its consensus mechanism, is too energy-intensive. They go to sites that try to estimate the energy consumption of Bitcoin in an attempt to scare the general public.

The Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index estimates the current consumption of the entire network at just over 120 TWh per year:

The index maintained by the University of Cambridge gives an annual electricity consumption by the Bitcoin system of the same size. It compares it to countries and shows that Bitcoin consumes slightly more energy in a year than the Netherlands for example:

Once the estimates of this energy consumption are out in the open, Bitcoin opponents explain that this is too much. I would like to answer that it is too much for what?

This energy consumption is a necessity to ensure the security of the world's most secure decentralized network.

Once the energy consumption is pointed out comes the carbon footprint of Bitcoin

The various indexes then try to estimate the carbon footprint of the Bitcoin network. This is something extremely difficult to do because it is hard to know exactly how much of the electricity used by the Bitcoin network comes from fossil fuels, and how much comes from renewable energy.

Nevertheless, the site behind the Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index gives the following estimate:

The annual carbon footprint of Bitcoin would therefore be equivalent to a country like Libya. Based on this rough estimate, Bitcoin's opponents take the opportunity to denigrate Bitcoin by saying that it is a real ecological disaster that awaits us.

They have been reinforced in this by Elon Musk, who has ended support for Bitcoin payments for Tesla's electric cars precisely because of concerns about Bitcoin's environmental impact.

The fact that Elon Musk wanted probably to manipulate the price of Bitcoin to his advantage did not bother them. They preferred to focus on what they were interested in. Typical of Bitcoin opponents.

All this talk about the environmental impacts of Bitcoin misses the point

Anyway, all these debates about Bitcoin's excessive power consumption, as well as its negative environmental impacts, miss one essential point in my opinion.

Bitcoin solves essential problems for humanity. It gives all citizens of the world access to an encrypted P2P currency. Bitcoin has incredible positive impacts on humanity, and this will only increase in the future. In fact, Bitcoin cannot be dismissed as discredited by its environmental impact.

It doesn't work that way. The first coal-fired trains were extremely polluting. Is this a reason to stop this major innovation? Of course not! On the contrary, humans have been working to improve the environmental impact of trains, which now run on electric power.

In countries like France, where the majority of electrical energy comes from nuclear power, the carbon footprint of high-speed trains is extremely low.

Bitcoin is essential to the world of the future and we need to work constructively to improve things

Assuming that Bitcoin is here to stay and that its success is inevitable, the debate must become constructive. Rather than sterile criticism, we need to focus on implementing solutions so that the environmental impact of Bitcoin is no longer an issue.

It's funny to note that Hal Finney had already started to think about this issue in the early days of Bitcoin:

For this, solutions exist. The electricity used by miners must come mainly from renewable energy sources. Bitcoin will therefore encourage the development of wind, solar and hydroelectric energy.

The fact that China decided to threaten miners recently in May 2021 is a great thing for Bitcoin from that point of view.

Bitcoin's Hash Rate will gradually move out of China and into other parts of the world, where renewable energy will be used more. The carbon footprint of Bitcoin, which is a subject that worries so many of Bitcoin's opponents, is a subject that is taken very seriously and that will only get better over time.

Initiatives to accelerate the use of renewable energy for the Bitcoin network are a step in the right direction

The initiative launched at the end of May 2021 by Michael J. Saylor and a few others, including Elon Musk, to create a Bitcoin Mining Council is going in the right direction. The stated goal is to bring together Bitcoin miners in North America to commit to greater transparency about the source of energy used for mining, but also to accelerate the transition to greater use of renewable energy.

This is what we need to work towards. Continue to support the development of Bitcoin while working to improve things from an environmental point of view. In short, we have to be constructive, because Bitcoin is here to stay.

So I'm not worried about that. The environmental challenges will be successfully addressed by the Bitcoin community in the future. The big question I have is what other sterile attacks the Bitcoin opponents will use next to falsely denigrate Bitcoin.

It is up to you not to fall into their traps and to take the time to look at the big picture.


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