Bitcoin emerged in 2009 and has been surrounded by controversy since its creation. Despite the technological, economic and social change it has brought to humanity, it is also accused of being a major source of pollution.
This cryptocurrency is considered the greatest expression of the digital economy of the 21st century. It is the symbol and the flag of that process. It is the one that has unleashed multi-billion dollar businesses overnight and has interested the world in the search for the crypto trading platforms.
Since its birth, bitcoin has promised us not to depend on the large financial institutions that dominate the world, not to depend on central banks and not to depend on the voracious intermediaries that always appear in capital transfers.
However, miners of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been in the spotlight for several years. Some reports point out that mining is negative and hinders the fight against climate change.
The popular belief is that a digital currency is a green currency. Unlike paper money, bitcoin does not require the cutting down of trees. Nor does it require the mining of metals. Nor does it require transactions at bank branches.
Taking these arguments into account, it is normal that you ask yourself: what does a digital currency have to do with environmental pollution?
Well, you should know that more and more voices are pointing out that Bitcoin mining has a lot to do with the ecological disaster that threatens our planet.
From the defense side of cryptocurrencies they point out that the accusations of polluting are desperate attempts by those who see decentralized virtual currencies as bad.
The truth is that Bitcoin mining requires a great deal of energy to power the hardware where each transaction is processed and recorded. That is the issue under debate: the energy requirements involved in the creation and management of bitcoins.
According to a report published by the reputable journal Nature, almost 70000000 tons of carbon dioxide attributable to the activity of bitcoin and other cryptocurrency miners were dumped into the atmosphere in 2017 alone.
Experts believe that if the world massively adopts bitcoin as a means of payment the temperature of the planet could increase by more than 2 degrees Celsius in less than three decades. It seems incredible!
The growth in the price of bitcoin has driven activities such as cryptocurrency mining and thus also triggered energy consumption that leaves a significant carbon footprint.
Some less alarmist voices point out that cryptocurrency miners seek locations where energy is cheap, little cooling is needed and also the energy produced comes from renewable sources. Some estimates point out that almost 40% of the energy used in mining comes from renewable sources.
They point out that all the activity we do on the Internet, from browsing social networks to sending emails, contributes to generating carbon emissions into the atmosphere.
Proponents of bitcoin also point to the energy costs of traditional banking, which are not often criticized in the press. The paradox of the case is that the banking system is closing more and more branches, laying off workers and redirecting its investments towards electronic banking.
It could be that the cryptocurrency sector is coming under excessive scrutiny, perhaps motivated by the promise of transparency, one of the premises crypto-enthusiasts have always held.
Some developers are devising ways to digitally tag bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies so they can reflect whether they have been sustainably mined. That could create a bifurcation of the cryptoasset market in which the sustainably mined coin has a higher value.
The truth is that a little more than 10 years after the launch of the first cryptocurrency, bitcoin is still embroiled in controversy, this time facing the environmental movement that seeks to preserve the health of the planet.