In October 2020, President Biden called climate change an existential threat to humanity, and Greta Thunberg criticized the lack of action by leaders on environmental issues in September 2021. Despite concerns about the energy consumption and carbon emissions of Bitcoin mining, the United States has become the global leader in this industry without implementing eco-friendly alternatives.
WASHINGTON, D.C. ꟷ In October 2020 President Joe Biden claimed that “Climate change is the existential threat to humanity. Unchecked, it is going to actually bake this planet. This is not hyperbole. It’s real. And we have a moral obligation.”
In September 2021 the inimitable Greta Thunberg responded, “Build back better. Blah, blah, blah. Green economy. Blah blah blah. Net zero by 2050. Blah, blah, blah. This is all we hear from our so-called leaders. Words that sound great but so far have not led to action. Our hopes and ambitions drown in their empty promises.”
When Congress writes environmental laws, the Environmental Protection Agency is supposed to establish the national standards and define regulations to ensure their mission to protect human health and the environment are honored, administered and enforced.
Cryptocurrencies gained popularity in the last decade with Bitcoin being the most popular. However, Bitcoin mining raised environmental concerns due to the energy required to mine it. The process of mining Bitcoin is energy-intensive and consumes vast amounts of electricity, leading to carbon emissions. Until June 2021, most Bitcoin mining was in China. Then the Chinese government drove out Bitcoin operations, at least for a time, citing their power use among other reasons.
Not one to miss an opportunity, the United States quickly became the industry’s global leader. Unfortunately, they never introduced legislation allowing only bitcoin mining operations that use proven eco-friendly alternatives such as solar power, hydro-powered mining, or proof-of-state standards. These methods consume far less energy. Instead, practices continue which are energy intensive and consume vast amounts of electricity.
Congress could have just as easily incentivized eco-friendly behaviour such as recycling and using renewable energy sources but chose to look the other way, as if the existential threat of climate change didn’t even exist.
As a result, according to the New York Times, each of the 34 operations The Times identified uses at least 30,000 times as much power as the average U.S. home. Altogether, they consume more than 3,900 megawatts of electricity which is nearly the same amount of electricity as the three million households that surround them.
In a recent USA Today article, “Three countries account for the lion’s share of global carbon dioxide emissions. In 2022, China was highest, at 32 percent, though that has begun to fall slightly. The United States was next with 14 percent, an increase of 1.5 percent over 2021.
India’s emissions continue to rise and now make up 8 percent of the global total. Together, the 27 nations of the European Union account for 8 percent.”
As a result, America’s recent dominance in Bitcoin mining has only led to more concerns about its environmental impact, not to mention, their commitment to climate change action to ensure the environmental impact of Bitcoin mining is NOT felt across the globe.
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