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Mining To Lead Us To An Environmental Disaster. But not Exactly

Ann Sotnikova, Catherine Lange

The theme of the mining’s impact on the environment has already become hackneyed. According to many experts, cryptocurrency mining and the environmental condition go hand in hand: one certainly affects the other. And in most cases, experts believe that the impact is not positive. Such opinions cannot be considered groundless.

Some statistics: according Digiconomist, the index of electricity consumption of bitcoin (14,59 TWh) exceeds the indicators of such countries as Tajikistan (12,38 TW/h), the Republic of Mozambique (12,59 TWh) and Slovenia (13,87 TWh). And the joint mining of two cryptocurrencies-leaders — Bitcoin and Ethereum — exceeds the consumption of electricity by Iceland, Jordan and other countries in terms of energy consumption. Moreover, one bitcoin transaction equals the daily electricity consumption of 31 American households.

Realizing this fact, many world experts began to strongly criticize mining, arguing that in the near future the appearance of our planet will not differ from the illustrations of the post-Apocalypse.

Not so long ago, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania Katrina Kelly-Pitu published an article that could simultaneously calm down the crypto community, and even make it more puzzling.

According to the expert, bitcoin really consumes a lot of energy — a fact which, she says, should not be argued. However, the article reports that the banking industry consumes about 100 TW per year, which significantly exceeds the energy consumption of the mining business. Moreover, "if bitcoin technology were to mature by more than 100 times its current market size, it would still be equal only 2 percent of all energy consumption.”

A similar opinion holds Shaun CHONG, Head of Mining Operations, Bitcoin.com. In an exclusive commentary for Bitnewstoday.com he said:

“Bitcoin mining has a much lower carbon footprint than other data centered industries.”

The specialist is sure that this is due to the fact that the vast majority of mining centers are located in places with an excess to renewable electricity (especially hydropower) or the cheapest electricity.

Another expert from Bitcoin.com, Kevin ZHANG, Mining Operations Manager also believes that mining of cryptocurrency does not bring catastrophic harm to our planet and certainly will not lead to the Apocalypse:

“Bitcoin mining uses less than a third of the consumption of traditional banking systems. Something else to keep in mind is that as the more time passes, the more our world as a whole is shifting towards cleaner energy as well. Bitcoin Mining also has this unique ability to allow for a massive amount of power to be shut off and sold 'back to the grid' in emergencies”.

According to the expert, mining can be deservedly considered an amazing way to use excess energy from wind, water and solar generation at the moments of their “peak loads”. The biggest problem associated with a large amount of renewable energy is its storage, says Kevin ZHANG. And this is where mining plays a positive role, because it suits great for absorbing the energy excess. Otherwise, it would simply be wasted on nothing, because it can not be stored.

Comments debunk Katrina's arguments that in many countries new industries still have to get energy from “dirty” power sources, although there are cases that should be recognized. However, in general, it turns out that mining is not as terrible as it is painted by opponents of everything new. Although their opinion would hardly affect the work of the industry, to be honest. Despite its "youth", the industry has already gained considerable momentum and, judging by real indicators, it is not going to reduce them at all.

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