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Bitcoin mining and environment: an awkward debate?


One of the big issues regarding Bitcoin mining is the impact it has on the environment. Environmental groups claim that it is a threat to the balance of life on the planet, due to the emission of carbon dioxide.

It must be taken into account that at this point in the relationship between Bitcoin mining and the environment, there are two poles of exaggeration. On the one hand, there are the alarmists, who claim that Bitcoin is to blame for not meeting environmental goals.

At the other extreme, there are those who argue that the digital mining industry does not represent the least damage. In that sense, there are studies that professionally address this issue and put the impact of crypto mining on the ecosystem in its proper place.

Is Bitcoin mining to blame for the current environmental disaster?

In an article published in the journal Nature in 2018, a group of researchers, led by Camilo Mora and Randi Rollins, relentlessly attacked Bitcoin mining. According to them, the insatiable hunger for energy in this industry could dramatically increase carbon dioxide emissions.

Thus, the door was opened for environmental groups, concerned about the health of the planet, to launch their attacks against digital mining. Some authors even claimed that, if the environmental goals patented in the Paris agreement were not met, the main culprit would be Bitcoin.

One of the most picturesque attacks was carried out by editor Anthony Cuthbertson of the Newsletter newspaper. His work was titled, “By 2020 Bitcoin mining will consume all the energy on the planet.”

XRP Joins Attacks Against Bitcoin

Recently, on the Ripple website the rhetoric against the main cryptocurrency is resumed. The basis of the company’s argument that supports XRP, one of the most important cryptocurrencies currently, is not ruled out.

The article explains the differences between the Proof-of-Work (PoW) and Proof-of-Stake (PoS) protocols. PoW is the one that uses Bitcoin to generate new coins. It is mining as we traditionally know it, where thousands of ASIC teams compete to process valid blocks. This process requires a high energy consumption.

PoS, on the other hand, is a consensus protocol, in which the Blockchain network of certain cryptocurrencies choose the processor. In other words, instead of ruthless competition between miners to process a block, the platform randomly chooses who will handle the processing.

In this way, the environment is rid of the inclement weather represented by the energy consumption of Bitcoin mining. Importantly, XRP is sourced via PoS, so it’s normal that it doesn’t sympathize with PoW from rival Bitcoin.

Bitcoin mining machines tend to improve their efficiency, which positively impacts the environment.
The efficiency of ASIC equipment is key in the impact of Bitcoin mining on the environment. Source: BitMex

The real impact of the mining industry on the environmental balance

So far, most studies and analysts who are unhappy with Bitcoin’s PoW pay little attention to the issue of ASIC efficiency. One of the balanced studies in this regard was carried out in late 2019 by Susanne Kohler and Massimo Pizzol from Aalborg University, Denmark.

“Unlike previous studies, it has been discovered that the period of useful life and production of these equipment has a smaller contribution to the climatic impact. As the total Hash Rate of the ASIC increases, their energy consumption and the footprint that each terahash mined leaves in the environment will tend to decrease ”they explain.

In this sense, efficiency becomes the key piece. Therefore, calculating the consumption of Bitcoin for 30 years from now, using the consumption parameters of the 2018 ASICs, shows certain gaps in the investigations of the previous studies.

On the other hand, Bitcoin has the same power consumption as all disused connected computers in the United States. Thus, blaming Bitcoin for the climate disaster that the planet is experiencing today, could be a matter of advertising the competition.

The arms race drives efficiency

The balance between the decreasing impact of Bitcoin mining on the environment is caused, on the one hand, by the increased difficulty of the network, and on the other, by the design of more advanced equipment.

There are 5 major mining equipment manufacturing companies: Bitmain, MicroBT, Canaan Creatives, Ebang and Innosilicon. Gaining market position forces them to develop hardwares with greater hash power and, at the same time, generate less electrical expenses. This competition is known as the digital mining arms race.

Electricity cost is one of the big headaches for the Bitcoin mining industry. Therefore, investors choose the equipment that generates the least expense in this regard. It is normal to see miners that, with a hash power three or five times higher, require less electricity than equipment from two or three years ago.

This increasing nature of efficiency allows the impact of Bitcoin mining on the environment to be reduced over the years. Making a calculation about the impact of digital mining on the ecosystem is complex, but if the increasing efficiency is measured, alarmisms could be ruled out.

Data to consider

  • According to Nature magazine, in less than three decades, the Bitcoin mining industry could raise global warming by 2 ° C.
  • The current consumption of the Bitcoin mining industry is 0.27% of the world’s total energy according to data from the Cambridge University Center for Alternative Finance.
  • The efficiency of mining equipment is measured with the W / T formula. The lower the electricity consumption per terahash, the greater the efficiency.
  • Studies from Aalborg University, Denmark dismiss attacks on the Bitcoin mining business with a broad research base.

Reliable sources

The information in this content has been extracted from reliable sources detailed below:

1- Professional handling of content by the authors of CriptoTendencia.
2- External sources:,,,, and

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