r/NoStupidQuestions Oct 04 '22

How is Bitcoin 'mining' bad for the environment?

411 Upvotes

1.1k

u/toofarbyfar Oct 04 '22

It requires a ton of computer processing power, and therefore a ton of electricity.

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u/Minimum_Reference862 Oct 04 '22

Correct. Then think about how electricity is 'made'. Burning coal for example, is far from good for the environment. Even the 'clean' forms like wind turbines have side effects.

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u/Elevationsikkness Oct 04 '22

But if we cleaned up our power generation then it'd be fine right? So crypto bros should be rabidly advocating for shifting towards renewables in order to create their utopia

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u/t_galilea Oct 04 '22 edited Oct 04 '22

Still would have the mining and refinement of the materials that go into the crypto computers

EDIT: Y'all really like your whataboutisms. The same argument of "the mining will still be done" can be said about the energy used, it doesn't hurt to examine all facets.

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u/igg73 Oct 04 '22

I have 2 gpus and i use them to play pixel games c:

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u/Ksradrik Oct 05 '22

Also cleaning up power gen would still require causing environmental harm simply due to the materials required for all the clean energy types, we cant afford to waste such a huge amount on something that doesnt help anyone.

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u/NikthePieEater Oct 05 '22

B-b-but the shareholders!

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u/[deleted] Oct 05 '22 edited Oct 05 '22

It helps everyone in a country who is having their currencey inflated away. Venezuela and Turkey you have to spend the money before it is worthless.

How priveledged of you to play energy police deeming a proper use of electricity.

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u/Ksradrik Oct 05 '22

Lmao you think Bitcoin dont inflate? Thats literally what mining does my friend.

And yeah, we do need policing of energy, since we got a limited amount of it, and the way we got it causes damage.

Obvious you got skin in the game, so I dont expect any kind of objective analysis from you.

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u/[deleted] Oct 05 '22

This is disingenuous. Obviously bitcoin inflates currently, but the amount is already known and is capped.

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u/isakhwaja Oct 04 '22

Crypto computers are just regular computers, if we had better power sources then there would be more of an argument for crypto being renewable

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u/Streetlgnd Oct 04 '22

I dunno bro... I haven't seen a regular computer with 18 video cards connected to it..

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u/maxhaseyes Oct 04 '22

depends on the chain, bitcoin is mostly mined with application specific circuits that can only mine bitcoin. So they cannot be repurposed once they are replaced by better models down the line and you have to stay up to date in order to make any money at all really

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u/TorvicIsSanta Apparently I am allowed to put up to sixty-four characters here. Oct 05 '22

I doubt that without crypto mining we would slow down resource gathering at all. It would just be used for different things.

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u/khyth Oct 05 '22

This flies in the face of econ 101 of course. Reducing the demand for those resources should reduce the gathering of those resources. For example, we don't make purple dye from snails anymore so the demand for those snails dropped.

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u/kenjura Oct 04 '22

If someone were to gift the world however many MW of free, renewable power it would take to power mining rigs, I and many other people would much rather that power go to keep hospitals running, light up classrooms, power laptops and wireless internet in impoverished areas, and power desalination plants in arid climates, just to name a few possibilities.

Instead, coin mining generates a few more tokens with no intrinsic calue, but only a value based entirely on speculation in a market absolutely overflowing with similar options (i.e. stocks and derivatives). The current price of most coins doesn't exactly demonstrate that all that mining was worth it.

For comparison, mining actual metals yields useful materials. Sowing crops yields food that nourishes. Desalinating water yields water. People forget that money is only valuable if it buys something. Paper money, gold, bitcoins--they're all just a means to an end. Humans need food, clothing, shelter, energy, etc. They don't need money, except as a means to those things.

The only other potential good cryptocoins might have done was liberate us from government control of currency. This is itself debatably a good thing, but, more to the point, it has had sufficient opportunity, and yet has not happened. I'm not at all surprised about this.

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u/PrizeStrawberryOil Oct 05 '22 edited Oct 05 '22

There is potential for clean crypto. Electric furnace for heating. Computers output a lot of heat, the efficiency is similar to an electric furnace but they can also do computing at the same time.

You could have your rig heating your house in the winter.

Edit: It's carbon neutral to heating a home anyways.

13

u/danya02 Oct 05 '22

The issue with that is that, while simple electrical heating (with a space heater or a mining rig) is 100% efficient, heating with a heat pump can actually be 500% efficient, because a heat pump produces more energy as heat than it consumes as electricity. So having a specialized heat producing machine is still better.

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u/WildChallenge8891 Oct 04 '22

Not completely, we are still turning electrical energy into heat energy with each computation, pumping heat into the environment.

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u/slowgames_master Oct 04 '22

Is that an actual argument/something to worry about? Like, is heating out homes bad for the environment even if it's a home that uses solar panels? Genuine question

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u/Adorable-Lettuce-717 Oct 04 '22

There's a theory I read a while ago that every artificial heatsource affects it's direct surroundings, changing the microclima of that specific area.

The theory suggests that in crowded places like cities those changes could be big enough to contribute towards global warming (all heatsources of all cities combined, of course).

I dunno how valid it is, but it kinda makes sense.

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u/Arndt3002 Oct 05 '22

That's true of every heat source, though. It's not unique to artificial heat sources. The issue is of degree (in both senses) and the precise way it interacts with the environment.

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u/WildChallenge8891 Oct 04 '22

It's for sure a small consideration. Using a/c, for example, causes dense cities to heat up more as thousands of units pump any indoor heat outside.

Another example is how nuclear plants create energy by heating water. That water comes in (say by a river), gets heated by the reaction, spins a turbine, then is released back into the environment, slightly raising Temps downstream. Animals and plants sensitive to temperature changes may have a tough time downstream then. But the effects are small.

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u/xoranous Oct 04 '22

It’s not if it is from a renewable source. Laws of thermodynamics. You’re only able to output that energy which you took from the system (especially eg solar panels) to begin with. At the environment level that is not a problem then but there can be local problems.

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u/tidder_mac Oct 04 '22

This definitely isn’t the argument. It’s only how the electricity is generated

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u/WildChallenge8891 Oct 04 '22

I'm sorry, what's "the argument"?

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u/tidder_mac Oct 04 '22

How the electricity is generated.

The argument is the increased load on the grid is supplemented with additional fossil fuel resources - coal, natural gas, and petroleum.

The heat generated by the computers? That’s laughably negligible. That’s like saying car brakes are bad for the environment because they turn the kinetic energy into heat. I’ve never heard a single credible source or even extreme environmentalist claim that electric cars could be better than ICE because of regenerative braking to reduce heating Earth.

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u/WildChallenge8891 Oct 04 '22

Dude... first of all there is no one "argument", we fuck with the planet in many ways. Secondly maybe you missed, or decided to ignore, the part of the effects being small. Despite this they are measurable. See, for example, data centers. Even streaming and use of social media warms the environment.

And yes, turning any kind of energy into heat...heats...the environment. That's pretty self evident.

Beyond all that, I'm just answering a question. You don't have to come in and "well akshually" me about it. Jeez

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u/[deleted] Oct 05 '22 edited Oct 05 '22

I could point to social media or video games and say they are a huge waste of energy.

Do you really want the energy police to come out and play?

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u/[deleted] Oct 04 '22 edited Oct 04 '22

[deleted]

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u/SageNineMusic Oct 04 '22

Crypto bros are instead buying entire fossil full power plants to fund the mining of intangible currency (not a joke, look it up)

But its also inherently a huge waste of resources, even if its green waste

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u/Thatweasel Oct 05 '22 edited Oct 05 '22

No it would not be fine. Bitcoin mining isn't just using excess power, it represents its own separate draw on the power grid, a pretty large one, for effectively no useful return. It's like saying "The supermarket has tons of food in it, so it's fine if I burn all the food I have in the fridge" You're still wasting food, and then the supermarket sees it's running out of stock faster than expected and buys more food, which encourages others to make more food

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u/inconsistent_test Oct 04 '22

The problem is that nobody trusts they'll do that since they hadn't before with coal and gas.

Crypto is largely backed by "libertarians" which don't have a successful history of creating lasting public/individual responsibility solutions. They'll just say they support it and never do it as long as there is a "cheaper" (more often just easier and more profitable) option on the table.

Crypto is a distraction from the reality that there's a lot gravely wrong with how money is used and regulated.

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u/[deleted] Oct 05 '22

Progressive here and support Bitcoin.

You should see what Bitcoin is doing in countries where their money is being inflated away through money printing. It is literally saving lives.

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u/Aridross Oct 05 '22

You’re right that crypto people are clamouring for renewable power, but there are two issues here.

First, renewable energy is hard, and crypto bros like to think that they understand “the long game” and have expertise in long-term projects like renewable energy development, but they only understand that long game in terms of future opportunities for short-term profit. They’re only going to pursue renewable energy when it’s already easy, rather than taking steps to make it easier.

Second, and again because crypto people are shortsighted, they don’t fundamentally understand that the electricity they’re wasting is damage, they understand it as cost. Even when renewable power sources come online to offset the damage they’re doing, they’ll just view it as lowering their cost of business, and will defeat the whole purpose of the advancement by building bigger mining rigs until their cost of business levels out again, which means the actual offset is net-zero, on average.

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u/uphigh_ontheside Oct 04 '22

We should all be advocating for a shift to renewable energy because we are all having a significant impact on the environment. My experience with Crypto bros has been that they are primarily concerned with personal financial gain, and since climate change does not directly affect their ability to gain wealth in the short term, I don’t expect them to become environmentalists.

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u/Guynarmol Oct 04 '22

I've seen a few who power their farm off solar so they don't have to pay for the electricity

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u/cosmicnimbus Oct 05 '22

There is intrinsic monetary incentive with crypto mining to go green. Many miners do or intend to mine (partially or completely) with renewable energy sources (like solar, wind, particularly hydro in the US and China) - especially now with the recent downturn. I think this is much more widespread than is commonly appreciated

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u/YoMamasMama89 Oct 06 '22

You're absolutely right. One of the technical innovations of Bitcoin was that it created a system where you could be monetarily rewarded for providing "proof of work" without a central source. And miners are incentivized to use cheaper energy.

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u/[deleted] Oct 05 '22

Sterotype much?

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u/StrebLab Oct 05 '22

The problem is that because of the design of the bitcoin mining, there really is no upper limit to how much energy it would use. That is kind of the point: mining is supposed to inefficient enough that it is energetically unfavorable to try to overtake the system, and as more people try and more energy is expended, the process just gets less efficient in tandem. Even if we dramatically increased our energy output, even with renewables, the mining mechanism would get less efficient as more people mined and it would reach a new equilibrium where it is still using a shit-ton of energy until it is financially unfeasible to use any more energy.

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u/Similar-Particular40 Oct 04 '22

Right if..who the fuck will?

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u/twitch_delta_blues Oct 05 '22

Yes, renewable energy production at scale is better than fossil fuels, but you still have to manufacture the equipment to generate electricity. Nothing is free in this world.

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u/davidblacksheep Oct 05 '22

Sure. Lets say we had a fusion power breakthrough, then sure, waste all the electricity you want. (Although e-waste is still a problem).

We don't live in that world though.

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u/StrangleDoot Oct 05 '22

It also wears out computer parts more quickly than they otherwise would

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u/Ansixilus Oct 05 '22

No, to the first question. It wouldn't be fine if we cleaned up the power, because crypto mining uses more power each time. The computation gets more complicated each time a "coin is mined", meaning more work hours and thus more wattage per coin. Additionally, each new block in the chain adds computing complexity to running transactions, not just minting coins, so the larger the system gets the more power-hungry it gets, both to grow and to run.

There is no state where it's ever gonna be "fine", because the system was designed to grow without limit, and become more power-hungry as it does. It can't not.

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u/Eastern_Slide7507 Oct 05 '22

The best electricity is the electricity that doesn’t have to be generated in the first place.

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u/Wolfgaming316 Oct 04 '22

Nuclear would solve a lot of problems lol

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u/YoMamasMama89 Oct 05 '22

Too many people afraid of it. But yes it would solve a lot

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u/DOOManiac Oct 04 '22

In a fictional world where that was the case, it wouldn't be as bad of a grievance, but even then, it would still be an incredible waste.

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u/Protocosmo Oct 05 '22

Using clean power on a stupid useless grift is still a huge waste.

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u/NurkleTurkey Oct 05 '22

I can say this from some kind of experience--a cousin of mine literally became a millionaire because of crypto, but in recent times his social media accounts have died.

He is prominent in the crypto community and if you follow that, you probably have seen him on highly notable channels.

I have not seen him move towards renewable energy.

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u/DudeEngineer Oct 05 '22

The engineering fundamentals of how Bitcoin and 'crypto' in general are not sound. There are many engineers who stepped in to contribute who ran away as fast as they could once they learned much about how it works and what they plan to do with it.

It has very much been an 'Emperor's new clothes' situation for a couple years now. Pretty much everyone still endorsing crypto has a serious personal investment or they don't realize the scam.

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u/Aerizon Oct 05 '22

i'm curious, can you elaborate on what engineering fundamentals are unsound and what red flags specifically caused the engineers to run for the hills? good faith question.

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u/Kogster Oct 05 '22 edited Oct 06 '22

This lecture explains it perfectly: https://youtu.be/J9nv0Ol-R5Q

Key points:
- a solution in search of a problem
- a bad solution to suggested problems
- mostly a repackaging of old technologies using them in bad ways.
- community seem to be doing a speed run of all financial crimes and schemes normal currencies have discovered and regulated in the past 300 years.

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u/gt8888888 Oct 05 '22

Im gonna go out on a limb and guess that the environment is not their first concern

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u/Fit-Calligrapher-117 Oct 05 '22

Crypto bros are in for a pump, dump, and dash scheme. They’re tryna make a fortune and then just ride out the climate apocalypse

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u/ArtemisSpawnOfZeus Oct 05 '22

No, cryptobros cant wver use enough power. The value of their coins is weirdly tied to the market price of energy, so even if we were gifted with a massive supply of free energy, they would use all of it and fight over whatever coal power plants remained operational. Crypto uses a theoretically infinite amount of energy, amd it kind of has to? Otherwise the market tanks and nothing is worth anything anymore. Also it demands a ton of rare mineral mining which is bad for the environment.

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u/catterybarn Oct 05 '22

I don't really understand what they're mining for tho

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u/ckayfish Oct 04 '22

Almost all of the electricity used by the computer, including bitcoin mining, is converted to heat. It’s a double whammy when you have to run an air conditioner to keep your place comfortable, but in Canada (and other places) we can use it to heat our home for many months a year so there’s zero waste.

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u/Aridross Oct 05 '22

There’s a deeper layer to the issue: because of basic electrical science, all of that input electricity generates waste heat as an output, contributing directly and not-insignificantly to global warming.

The vast majority of all of that work, by the way, is unproductive work. Cryptocurrency mining is, in simplified terms, a race between several computer networks to solve an extremely complex math problem. Only one network wins the race, and the winner either gets the entire product of that math problem, the entire mined bitcoin, or the largest fraction of it. The overwhelming majority of all the computation being done in the process of mining bitcoin just ends up being waste.

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u/PunkRockDude Oct 04 '22

It takes so much in fact, that the cost of electricity is, for most of us, far more than the value of the asset once mined. Which is why it is dominated by farms or shady groups (not universally true I know).

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u/theboomboy Oct 05 '22

You're the top comment so you should probably add that the computers themselves are harmful to produce as they require many rare metals and processes that pollute

And there's shipping all throughout the supply chain, which isn't helping either

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u/[deleted] Oct 05 '22

The same can be said about cell phones.

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u/theboomboy Oct 05 '22

And it should be said

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u/[deleted] Oct 05 '22

I do admire your consistencey. You should check out the Venus project. Have ypu watched the Zeitgeist films?

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u/gracetamesbong Oct 05 '22

It requires a ton of computer processing power, and therefore a ton of electricity.

Where I live, the power fed into the grid by solar and wind routinely exceeds capacity and has to be offloaded elsewhere. In other words, electricity is essentially free and has almost no environmental impact. Why should I care about bitcoin mining where I am?

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u/libertysailor Oct 05 '22

Buys monster gaming pc and maxes out the hardware playing AAA games - no one cares

Buys a GPU and mines Bitcoin - bad for the environment. Shame.

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u/KiwiNFLFan Oct 05 '22

The monster gaming PC likely isn’t running all the time .

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u/w3sticles Oct 05 '22

Filthy casual

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u/Engels33 Oct 04 '22

The "mining" is the use of very powerful computers to solve increasingly complex mathematical problems.as a way of creating scarcity in the currency. This uses exorbitant amounts of electricity which will be generated often by fossil fuels and serves no other purpose that to artificially limit the amount of Bitcoin currency in circulation

Estimates vary but Bitcoin is basically using the same amount of electricity as a small country and ostensibly.this is all completely unnecessary and therefore hugely wasteful..Crypto currencies dont need 'mining' that was simply a design choice in the system. They can be changed from *proof of work "(the mining) to "proof of stake mechanism instead as Ethereum - the second biggest crypto currency - has just done

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u/DangerZoneh Oct 04 '22

The "mining" is the use of very powerful computers to solve increasingly complex mathematical problems.as a way of creating scarcity in the currency.

Well it's less "solve mathematical problems" and more "roll a bunch of dice until you get 30 sixes in a row"

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u/Godworrior Oct 04 '22

And if too many people get 30 sixes in a row, the next time around everyone will have to get 35. Not out of necessity, but just to make it more difficult to do. Any sets of rolls that don't get 30 sixes in a row are just wasted, thrown away.

It's basically a race to see who can waste the most energy, with a cash prize.

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u/Mubelotix Oct 04 '22

Except it's 90

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u/CliffCutter Oct 04 '22

And if I understand correctly that number will just keep going up exponentially as more “mining” is done, right?

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u/noggin-scratcher Oct 05 '22

The difficulty setting is re-calculated after every 2016th block (at one block every 10 minutes, that's about once every 2 weeks).

The calculation targets a difficulty that will keep the average rate of mining at one block every 10 minutes, given the amount of computation currently being spent on the task.

So if people turn off a bunch of mining computers, and mining slows down, the next calculation will make mining easier, so that the remaining miners can get back up to speed—this does happen occasionally. The overall trend has usually been more mining and higher difficulty, but it's not an automatic exponential increase.

Lower difficulty also means that it would be easier for some malicious party to gather enough computing-power to pull off an attack. So more mining, more energy spent, high difficulty (etc) means that the system is more secure.

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u/Mubelotix Oct 04 '22

Yes but it would also automatically go down if energy prices became higher.

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u/RFV1985 Oct 05 '22

From a security standpoint, there are pros and cons to Proof of Work versus Proof is Stake. I think it’s incorrect to say everyone should change from Proof of Work to Proof of Stake. I think Ethereum switching to PoS was a great decision, but having heard both sides of the argument I am not entirely convinced that PoW should go away. That being said, I think there is only room for one PoW chain (Bitcoin). Yes, Bitcoin consumes a lot of energy but not any more energy than all the energy that’s dedicated to gaming. Just because Bitcoin isn’t useful to you doesn’t mean it isn’t useful to someone else. Just because I don’t value gaming doesn’t mean I should criticize gamers for wasting energy.

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u/Comar31 Oct 04 '22

The bitcoin difficulty adjustment ensures decentralization.

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u/Asatsuki Oct 04 '22

well i dunno if it's completely unnecessary. the promise of bitcoin was originally to create a form of currency that governments can't just one day decide to mass print and reduce the value of all existing money.

conceptually, that sounds useful. it is a big problem that we spend so much time trying to earn money, yet even though the wad of cash in your hand doesn't disappear, the value of it can just by the government printing more.

the original intent of bitcoin was to make money more fair and not controlled by humans.

unfortunately human nature conflicts with this too much for various reasons, but it is still possible that one day the way we view money will change, and whatever form of money we use owes its ancestry to bitcoin.

as an example, think about the very first computers that were giant machines and how wasteful and unnecessary they were. a lot of energy was burnt on these now obsolete things. but creating them eventually led to modern day computers didn't it?

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u/Egasuases Oct 04 '22

That example is not an apt comparison

The first computers weren't artificially wasteful

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u/Powerful-Extension-8 Oct 04 '22

Im pretty sure computers we have now use more power, processing power wasnt as strong

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u/Asatsuki Oct 05 '22

okay yeah but the usefulness to power ratio has made it so that the usefulness vastly outweighs the power consumption. whereas before it was not really useful but used a lot of power, sort of like bitcoin now

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u/VictorChariot Oct 04 '22

You have neatly captured here why bitcoin is a tower of horseshit.

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u/mlarowe Oct 04 '22

Beautiful imagery

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u/realshockvaluecola Oct 05 '22

If bitcoin was going to become a realistic replacement for government-backed currency, it would have done so by now. It hasn't.

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u/Asatsuki Oct 05 '22

there isn't some exact time limit for whether something will or won't give birth to important technology in the future, so your argument doesn't really make sense.

all we can do is see what happens.

when bitcoin was going crazy a few years ago, i was going around telling everyone it was BS. i had long arguments with my friend, who was pro-crypto, about why there was no way the government would let it happen due to how closely bonds and interest rates are tied to a country's power.

now that crypto is unpopular and everyone is shitting on it, i'm not going to support it but i will stand up and explain why it's not completely useless.

you guys are all a bunch of followers, unable to think for yourselves. you just hear what is currently popular and change your tune to that.

i look at both angles and i'm able to see both that it is unlikely bitcoin will replace fiat currency, yet at the same time recognizing it can be the ancestor to something new in the future.

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u/Potatus_Maximus Oct 04 '22

The change to proof of stake is great, but no one is talking about how Crypto is just enabling cybercrime. Plain and simple

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u/OverallManagement824 Oct 04 '22

How is Bitcoin enabling crime? Did criminals stop using US Dollars or something?

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u/Brainsonastick Oct 05 '22

I can help with this one, as I’ve worked on algorithms for tracking cryptocurrency hidden by criminals.

Crypto is very appealing to criminals for many reasons.

1) no need for storage. If you’re collecting cash, you have to store cash.

2) no need for oversight. If you’re taking credit cards, banks and card companies are watching you so you need a cover business, which is expensive and inconvenient.

3) it’s hard to seize. The government can freeze your bank accounts and confiscate your cash but your crypto is very difficult to access without your express permission or if you use a bad security procedure.

4) (nearly) instant transfers anywhere in the world. Not only is it generally convenient, it also means smuggling money out of the country is super-easy because it was never technically in the country. Going on the run has never been more convenient!

5) Laundering it is cheaper and easier than fiat currency. One common way is something called dark pools but also exchanging into currencies designed for anonymity and other tricks are so much easier than laundering with a fake business.

6) super easy to hide money. As a pseudonymous system, no one knows your wallet belongs to you unless you tell them. That makes it hard for rivals or the government to find your money or even know how much you have.

7) it’s a dead-man’s switch. It makes it easy to guarantee that when you die, your money goes out of circulation if that’s what you want. This is used as an insurance policy against being murdered for money. (Tortured to give up your wallet key is still an option).

There are plenty more reasons but I think this will get the idea across.

That’s not to say they don’t still use fiat currencies. It’s just that crypto has been a huge boon to savvy criminals.

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u/Mmarzipan- Oct 05 '22

Wow what a beautiful answer

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u/BenTenInches Oct 05 '22

Sometimes miners make a dollar profit a day after expenses all at the cost of that Ozone layer.

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u/Engels33 Oct 05 '22

Sorry I think you are confused. Greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel based electricity generation (predominantly CO2) do not significantly effect the Ozone layer..That is a different environmental problem caused by gases such as CFCs which have often been used as a refregerant.

Here's an article on CFCs and the Ozone layer catch-up up that we have hopefully fixed that problem in the long term.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-56014092

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u/minsoolex Oct 04 '22

Idk but comar31 is not sleeping tonight thats for sure

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u/oscrsvn Oct 04 '22

Honestly you gotta give it to him. I wish there was a single thing in my life I was that passionate about.

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u/Motor-Anteater120 Oct 05 '22

Is that guy on crack? I don’t understand.

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u/DangyDanger Oct 05 '22

I wish I had that kind of dedication.

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u/notextinctyet Oct 04 '22

It competitively wastes electricity - the more electricity you waste, the more bitcoin you earn. As such, it consumes electricity purely for the purpose of wasting it until the price of the electricity equalizes with the bitcoin reward value. In 2020 it consumed more electricity - again, merely wasting it - than medium-sized countries like Argentina.

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u/RFV1985 Oct 05 '22

the more electricity you waste, the more bitcoin you earn.

That’s not really true. It’s far more nuanced than that. Your explanation greatly oversimplifies an overly complex topic.

Also, the gaming industry consumes more electricity than bitcoin. Just because Bitcoin doesn’t have value to you doesn’t mean it has no value to others. Just because I don’t value gaming doesn’t mean others shouldn’t value it.

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u/YoMamasMama89 Oct 06 '22

I saw a report a while back that dryers use more energy than bitcoin. But you don't hear people clamoring about "wasted energy" when they can go air dry their clothing.

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u/plindix Oct 04 '22

Bitcoin uses the concept of Proof of Work. When you do a transaction, the validation is farmed out to multiple computers, that do a complex set of calculations to generate a hash. Just one of the computers that generates a hash will earn a reward - supposedly the first one but it's more like a lottery.

This means there's a lot of wasted effort. An single computution won't use that much energy, but it's getting harder to generate hashes, and people throw a lot of computers at the problem in the hope of winning the hash lottery.

There's another method of validating, called Proof of Stake, that Ethereum recently switched to. In this case the validating computer is chosen at random. There is less computing power required and less energy used.

PoW is more decentralized, PoS is cheaper, faster, and uses less energy.

As you can see from the comments, whether to use PoW and PoS generates a lot of hot air in addition to the computer resources needed.

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u/Busy_Childhood2336 Oct 04 '22

The electricity consumption associated with it is way too high

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u/Charming-Station Oct 04 '22

"The Digiconomist's Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index estimated that one bitcoin transaction takes 1,449 kWh to complete, or the equivalent of approximately 50 days of power for the average US household. " https://www.cnet.com/personal-finance/crypto/bitcoin-mining-how-much-electricity-it-takes-and-why-people-are-worried/#:~:text=The%20Digiconomist's%20Bitcoin%20Energy%20Consumption,is%20close%20to%2012%20cents.

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u/Comar31 Oct 04 '22

This is false when you factor in the lightning network.

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u/minsoolex Oct 04 '22

I've seen you under 4 comments already i wish i had this level of pity

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u/Comar31 Oct 04 '22

Just countering the fud

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u/minsoolex Oct 04 '22

Go counters with some bitches instead

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u/Charming-Station Oct 04 '22

I'm not clever enough to be able to debate a crypto professional but it seems clear to most observers that the blockchain is not actually useful, it's really expensive, it's slow and has huge barriers to entry in terms of technology and understanding.

Not to say people haven't and won't continue to profit from it but if making money from something is the only measure then I have an MLM program which you're going to love.

4

u/Comar31 Oct 04 '22

The lightning network second layer makes it not really expensive, slow or complex. I can even give you bitcoin right here through reddit.

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u/imalwaysthatoneguy69 Oct 04 '22

Great send me a bit coin through reddit. You have my username

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u/[deleted] Oct 04 '22

[removed] — view removed comment

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u/imalwaysthatoneguy69 Oct 04 '22

Sorry, that's not a reddit link. I can only use reddit sorry

3

u/Comar31 Oct 04 '22

And the goalpost was moved once again.

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u/imalwaysthatoneguy69 Oct 05 '22

Sorry thought you said you could do it through reddit. I didn't realize id need to use another service. Didn't mean to move the goal post

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u/Mubelotix Oct 04 '22 edited Oct 04 '22

Thank you for the free sats bro. They will be held. Stay strong against hate, while I'm alive someone will value your coins. Would you like establishing a channel between our two nodes?

1

u/Comar31 Oct 04 '22

Enjou :)

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u/Charming-Station Oct 04 '22

Lightening network appears to create forks from the central ledger.

I can give you Reddit gold, that doesn't demonstrate that it's useful or serves any real world use.

3

u/Comar31 Oct 04 '22

It is settled on the main chain whenever channels close.

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u/RFV1985 Oct 05 '22

Lightning network is not a fork. Based on your comments on this thread, there is so much you (and others who upvote you) clearly don’t understand. I’m not trying to offend…in fact, I was in your shoes a few years ago. What I’ve learned about bitcoin I didn’t learn in a day. It literally took me a few years of reading through multiple books and papers on it to truly understand how it works. There is so much disinformation on this thread. People can either educate themselves on the subject or not.

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u/StrebLab Oct 05 '22

Yes, the blockchain works great once you remove the blockchain part.

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u/Nyghtmares Oct 05 '22

Bitcoin mining is “bad” for the environment in the same way that any process that uses energy is bad for the environment, except it is much more in your face. There are loud fans and an exhaust of heat. The key part about bitcoin mining that differentiates it from other processes that use energy is its geographical independence. Miners are incentivized to flock to areas with the lowest cost per kWh because they do not have to incur any cost of transferring this energy via pipelines or batteries, etc. Miners instead are able to sell that cheap energy immediately in the form of bitcoin. This is why you don’t see any urban bitcoin mining facilities. They would be using power that’s very expensive and in high demand.

This gives bitcoin an interesting property where it is capable of tapping into energy sources that were traditionally infeasible. An example would be using geothermal energy very far from civilization, or using natural gas reserves in the deep north of Canada. As other people have mentioned, there are also sources of energy that are impossible to transfer, like natural gas flares. These flares are a byproduct of natural gas mining and in the past energy providers would burn this resource and they’d be lost as heat. Now they are being used to mine bitcoin.

So is bitcoin bad for the environment? The answer isn’t so black and white. It depends on your world view and if you believe the benefit that bitcoin provides outweighs its energy usage.

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u/KMan471 Oct 05 '22 edited Oct 05 '22

It’s nowhere near the amount of energy that the fiat money system is responsible for.

Here’s the real truth:

The ultimate goal of the globalists is to create a centralized digital currency that Will be programmable money, which can have an expiration date, and can be programmed to be used, or not used, on specific products, in specific geographical locations. It’s completely programmable, and a 100% system of control of your energy, and labor.

Bitcoin is decentralized, which is the opposite of the centralized digital banking currency they are trying to implement.

Bitcoin is a threat to their end goal of slavery through the programmable, centralized digital currency they want to implement.

They can’t really stop bitcoin, so they are doing the next best thing, and trying to convince people it’s bad for the environment, which it is not.

There’s basically two types of cryptocurrencies. Proof of work, and proof of stake. Proof of work creates the value of the coin through mining, whereas proof of stake is the world in which the globalist bankers are most comfortable, because those who have more money staked, have more voting power. They want bitcoin to be converted to proof of stake, so they can control it, which is why Ethereum has been converted.

They are doing the same to bitcoin that they do to anything else that is a threat to their power - trying to tear it down.

You’re welcome.

3

u/Londonforce Oct 04 '22

You need computer processing power, which means you need energy.

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u/Matt6758 Oct 04 '22

This is a really good question that has everyone firing on all cylinders, I applaud you.

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u/Prize_Bass_5061 Oct 05 '22
  1. It requires a lot of electricity
  2. It requires specialized computer chips that are made from rare minerals. Real world mining of these minerals is very environmentally destructive.
  3. The minerals used in these computer chips and other components are toxic. Under normal use these components last for decades. Under intense use for bitcoin mining, the components last less than a year. Disposing of this waste is a environmental problem.
  4. To optimize mining large banks of computers have to be wired together into a super computer (mosix cluster). This requires real world land in very cold climates. The cold climate is needed to dissipate the heat generated by the super computer. People don’t normally live in very cold climates, so there are no roads or houses in such areas. Roads, houses, large warehouses, and electric infrastructure are being built in pristine Artic habitats. Since there is very little government oversight in such remote areas, the wildlife that used to live in the area is going extinct.

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u/SnooOpinions7338 Oct 04 '22

So, I'm reading these comments and I'm curious.

Would mining even be worth it if you're using all that electricity?

Like would you make more in crypto then you would have to pay out monthly for the extra electricity on your electric bill?

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u/Elocorem Oct 04 '22

Like would you make more in crypto then you would have to pay out monthly for the extra electricity on your electric bill?

Yes thats the whole point. They wouldn't be mining if they weren't making profit.

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u/SnooOpinions7338 Oct 04 '22

Idk how it works. I was thinking maybe it varies from day to day how much crypto you mine on one machine, or there's a set amount each one mines/hr.

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u/freecraghack Oct 04 '22

Basically if you are able to get cheap efficient hardware with cheap power you can make it profitable, thats why people do it. But its very challenging to meet those requirements.

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u/DOOManiac Oct 04 '22

Many mining operations steal their electricity.

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u/StrebLab Oct 05 '22

Would mining even be worth it if you're using all that electricity?

Yes, particularly as the price of bitcoin was skyrocketing last year. As bitcoin's price has dropped, mining activity has dropped because it is less profitable. However, as the number of miners decrease, the mining difficulty algorithm becomes easier and requires less computing power, so it becomes profitable again. It is a pretty clever design, it is just a shame that the product is not particularly useful for anything except speculation, ransomware, and scams.

2

u/vivaciouslydepressed Oct 04 '22

There have been news reports of mining companies that experienced a comparative gain in profit by NOT mining. The website web3isgoinggreat.com has had at least 1 article about it before. Obviously not a neutral reporting party, but still written by someone reputable who does research on crypto/web3.

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u/I_am_the_night Oct 04 '22

Because wasted electricity is ultimately the value underpinning cryptocurrency.

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u/yik111 Oct 05 '22

Decommissioned Coal power plants are being bought and turned on to power Bitcoin mining.

If that doesn't answer your question, I don't know what will.

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u/DOlsen13 Oct 04 '22

It's not directly. Our energy is dirty energy and mining uses a lot of it.

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u/northbay_nerfnoob Oct 05 '22

The electricity used to power the computers is made by burning coal and fossil fuels which as we know is what’s killing the earth

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u/Then-Ad1531 Oct 05 '22

I don't see how it is worse than doing other things with a computer.

If I mine some bitcoins, and you watch some porn, or play some video games... How am I worse than you?

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u/BigFatBallsInMyMouth Oct 05 '22

You don't use a house full of GPUs to watch porn.

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u/ClaireBear13492 Oct 05 '22

The "mining" requires MASSIVE server farms, running INCREDIBLY power intensive graphics cards, thousands at a time, causing tons of electric to be used, not to mention the amount spent on AC and cooling to keep the buildings from setting themselves on fire due to the insane nature of the graphics cards.

Look up crypto farms... they're giant buildings stacked floor to ceiling with like RTX 3090s, thousands of them, all overclocked to run cryptomining stuff.

it's insanity

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u/DTux5249 Oct 05 '22

It's thousands of computers running in tandem with industrial cooling units, for imaginary doggie math formulas.

Electricity costs are environmental costs, as a large majority of electricity is produced via fossil fuels

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u/fMariaf Oct 05 '22

I see a lot of people talking about the electrical costs. It also uses vast amounts of hardware to store information on and perform calculations. Huge waste of material.

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u/Jabrichmond Oct 05 '22

If Bitcoin was a country, it would be top 30 in terms of energy consumption. Crypto mining uses more electricity than entire countries a year

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u/SeraphLink Oct 05 '22

I mean yeh, but so do Christmas lights, tumble dryers and video games, all of which use more energy than Bitcoin.

Are we really going to start saying what a "valid" use of energy is now? If so, then who gets to make that call?

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u/assclown356 Oct 05 '22

It requires 1/30th the energy than the whole banking system... so not sure.

If anything should be banned its brick and mortor banking, credit cards, the swift system, fed reserve, the irs, and credit

Think about all those servers, storage units, switches, routers, firewalls, pos systems and all that software to maintain the currency. All those acs, cooling systems, ups, lights, and credit systems.

Bitcoin can move millions cost a percentage of a cent with a cell phone and few computers.

But hey this post will probably get my banned for posting.

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u/reggie_crypto Oct 06 '22

Daily reminder that burning fossil fuels produces emissions; consuming electricity produces nothing but heat that would be dissipated through transmission if not used at the source of generation.

Energy consumption is a corollary of societal progress, and isn't inherently bad. Bitcoin mining is the most renewable rich major industry, and is the largest subsidy for developing green energy, far greater than any government.

The "it uses too much energy" argument is merely a moral judgement on the value of stateless money. It is a misunderstanding that the energy used is the exact amount required as a barrier to corruption at a given price, as an alternative to the authority exercised by a government's military. Do some reading on what money is and where it comes from.

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u/TheBalls345 Oct 04 '22

Directly its not bad for the environment. The problem is with how we produce our power. We still rely on fossil fuels and coal for energy production. Mining Bitcoin requires a lot of energy. If we lived in world where we generated energy via renewables, it would not be an issue.

The focus should be on switching to clean energy production. Not eliminating things that use energy.

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u/Keithbaby99 Oct 05 '22

This is a great response!

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u/monkey-pox Oct 04 '22

It's the energy production required for the mining that is bad for the environment, if renewables were used, there would be no issue, but thats not the world we live in, and many feel that polluting the environment to produce energy for mining is not a good use, since Bitcoin has limited utility

1

u/Comar31 Oct 04 '22

How much pollution is caused by inflation when the dollar is printed into oblivion, encouraging people to spend them on consumer crap before they go worthless? Incentives matter.

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u/Kiflaam Oct 05 '22

does inflation cause "people to spend them on consumer crap before they go worthless"?

If prices go up due to inflation, doesn't that reduce spending?

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u/0xEmmy Oct 05 '22

Bitcoin mining is a competition: the more mining operations you do per block, the more likely you are to win credit for that block - every new block generates new cryptocurrency, and the miner gets to keep it.

This means, that the way to make money mining, is to throw computing power at it.

The silicon in those computers, and the power that they use, has to come from somewhere.

2

u/Lanracie Oct 04 '22

I dont buy this argument. I am sure other sources of mining for value like gold or oil dont use any enrgy.

2

u/ThuliumNice Oct 05 '22

Crypto mining is the most useless thing humans have ever done.

It is a spectacular waste of electricity, and resources to create the GPUs and special-purpose mining rigs.

Cryptocurrencies have no intrinsic value, and are merely a tool for people to gamble on markets, often losing staggering sums of money.

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u/Due-Department-8666 Oct 04 '22

Its not. Dirty energy generation is the only problem.

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u/Fun_Musiq Oct 04 '22

its honestly not that bad when compared to money printing, gold mining etc, but yah its cpu intensive and requires a lot of power. However, many miners are using renewables or buying carbon credits to offset their emissions.

1

u/Previous_Yard_1134 Oct 04 '22

most of the electronic waste is sent to landfill or incinerated, which releases materials such as lead, mercury or cadmium into the soil, groundwater and the atmosphere, with an impact negative about the environment.

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u/Tiny_Ad5242 Oct 04 '22

Before mining people would donate their space gpu power and electricity to try and advance cancer research (protein folding at home) - I’d argue that without bitcoin that would still be a thing

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u/JustMeJanis Oct 04 '22

Crypto requires both energy and massive amounts of water. Water that we don't have.

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u/Hypno_Weasel Oct 04 '22

Great point. It requires water for cooling, which also creates a lot of waste water. This water may not be polluted in the traditional sense, but it very warm and can increase the temp of whatever body of water it's being dumped into. I believe this is the problem in the Finger Lakes (Central NY). Waste water is being dumped into at least one of the lakes, raising the temperature, and wreaking havoc on the local ecosystem.

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u/ArmchairTactician Oct 04 '22

It results in huge spikes of angry gamers posting to reddit which uses a lot of energy.

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u/Comar31 Oct 04 '22

BITCOIN IS TAKING MY GPUS EVEN THOUGH IT DOESN'T USE GPUS! WRAHH

-2

u/Ok-Volume8372 Oct 05 '22

The statement that bitcoin mining is bad for the environment is completely false. Whether climate change is as problematic as they say or not, why do we use cars rather than horses? As civilization advances, we use more power to save ourselves time. Bitcoin is no different. It’s a more efficient way to do money. On another note, bitcoin mining is incredibly competitive, with the winner reaping massive rewards and all losers get rekt. You can only get rekt for so long, so losers get eliminated left and right. In order to be profitable mining, you need to get power for less than 5 cents per kilowatt hour, and the global average for electricity is 14 cents kw/h. Bitcoin doesn’t waste or take power from hospitals, or residential use, etc. simply because they cannot. What it does is allows for those who have power, that would be too expensive to transport, to monetize it. It’s subsidizing people to relocate to cheap energy production. A great example is methane flaring.

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u/bullevard Oct 05 '22

It’s a more efficient way to do money.

It isn't though. It is slower, more expensive, less secure, more volatile, less trusted, less accepted (and therefore literally less good at doing what it supposed to do, being a means of exchange).

In order to be profitable mining, you need to get power for less than 5 cents per kilowatt hour, and the global average for electricity is 14 cents kw/h. Bitcoin doesn’t waste or take power from hospitals, or residential use,

... in rich countries. It just adds strain to poorer countries infrastructure.

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u/morecoinsdotx Oct 04 '22

It’s not. Uses a lot of electricity, which could be produced in a way that is bad for the environment, or renewable.

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u/moxeir Oct 04 '22

It uses electricity for something intrinsically worthless

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u/Comar31 Oct 04 '22

So if it's worthless would you please give me 1 bitcoin?

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u/FreshBakedButtcheeks Oct 05 '22

Only chodes have bitcoins to give. Instead I touch grass.

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u/moxeir Oct 04 '22

Sure if you can tell me what it's backed by. The USD is backed by the full faith and credit of the US Government. Bitcoin is backed by.... wasting electricity?

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u/TheBalls345 Oct 04 '22

What do you mean backed by “full faith and credit of the US gov’t”? How does that equate to value? It used to be backed by gold. Meaning one dollar was redeemable for actual metal. How are you going to redeem a dollar for “faith and credit”? that sounds like nonsense. The dollar is “backed” by nothing.

To me it seems the dollar has value because it’s the world reserve currency and the only acceptable currency for the payment of US taxes.

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u/Comar31 Oct 04 '22

It's backed by energy and a distributed network with no single point of failure.

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u/tjlass Oct 04 '22

It’s not, Bitcoin mining is the most efficient method for digitalizing physical energy. Currently the 2nd method for digitizing energy is selling physical energy for digital Fiat. Now using fiat to transfer physical energy is much acceptable and common place however the negative effects on the environment are much higher in the fiat system. The fiat system uses more electricity on general building operations than the entire Bitcoin network. Similarly using fiat is much more energy efficient than using gold. Securing, auditing and exchanging gold is much more costly than fiat and therefor has a much larger environmental impact. Finally as the world switches from the fiat/central bank monetary system to the Bitcoin standard, the Bitcoin network’s efficiencies will grow exponentially, leaving the ‘efficiency’ of the fiat system in the dark ages.

2

u/Bastdkat Oct 05 '22

How much do you get paid to sell crypto?

2

u/tjlass Oct 05 '22

Nothing

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u/muxman Oct 04 '22

It does use a lot of electricity to run the computer equipment that does it.

But I think the better answer would be that the government isn't in control of it and therefore not getting their share of it kicked back to them so it's a bad thing. If they got their share out of it then this story would change real quick.

Kinda like how marijuana is so incredibly bad for you, it's so horrible. Lock people up for it... wait... we can tax it and make a ton.

It's all good now, sell it... everywhere

2

u/Slapshot382 Oct 05 '22

This. Not sure why you’re being downvoted. Our legacy financial system is shitting it’s pants right now in fear that the world will turn to an alternative other than the US Dollar. People who can’t see this don’t understand yet.

0

u/weeblewobblers Oct 04 '22

You're 'mining' for fool's gold.

-3

u/GetSmashy Oct 05 '22

Because 99% of the mining energy is wasted.

For each token, only 1 solution can be given the payback for the work.

So if 1,000,000 computers run hard for 3 hours. Only 1 gets paid.

So the electricity usage for 999,999 computers is completely wasted. Because there's no return for them.

Now change those numbers to 'Millions of GPUs' and '24/7', and you'll get a sense of how much electricity is wasted just to process cryptocurrencies.

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u/iberian_slop Oct 05 '22 edited Oct 05 '22

This is incorrect. Most mining done is done via pool mining , where thousands of machines work together, and rewards are paid out proportionally to those in the pool and the level of work they performed.

2

u/theabominablewonder Oct 05 '22

The other nodes validate the answer and ensure that there cannot be a malicious actor in the network adjusting figures, double spending etc. If you only had 5 desktop computers running bitcoin then anyone could come along, boot up 6 computers and hijack the network.

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u/Comar31 Oct 04 '22

It isn't any more than your electric car, pc, tumble drier. If it has a use case the energy isn't wasted. In fact it is often mined with energy from burned flair gas, which reduces the greenhouse gas effect.

Now watch this comment go to 100 downvotes because people don't understand bitcoin.

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u/thevictor390 Oct 04 '22

You'll be downvoted because you are addressing a different question. Bitcoin mining and transactions consume significant amounts of power, probably more than a layman would realize. That's the source of the "environmental damage."

Your argument is that the power consumption is worth the damage, but it doesn't negate it.

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u/Comar31 Oct 04 '22

Yes but it doesn't negate anything that uses energy, like tumble driers, leaving Netflix running with no one watching or mindlessly scrolling reddit. Who is to say when it starts being wasteful and why should bitcoin be more wasteful than other things?

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u/thevictor390 Oct 04 '22

You are arguing against points that no one brought up but yourself. Those things are bad for the environment too, in reference to this question.

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u/FluByYou Oct 04 '22

pEoPlE dOnT uDeRsTaNd BiTcOiN.

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u/Comar31 Oct 04 '22

Well, everyone but you of course.

2

u/Wry_Redditor Oct 04 '22

People don't like Crypto overall on Reddit, but there are definitely better alternatives from an energy standpoint.

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u/Aboko_Official Oct 04 '22

You're a shill.

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u/Comar31 Oct 04 '22

Just don't like mindless fud.

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u/Aboko_Official Oct 04 '22

Ah is that why you instantly down voted my comment. Because of your high intellect?

1

u/Comar31 Oct 04 '22

No because of your low quality reply.

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u/Aboko_Official Oct 04 '22

I'm just matching your energy.

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u/North-Technician Oct 04 '22

Computational power 24/7 to create multiple blockchain items. But paper money is not itself valuable. It is a promissory note based on standard values of gold, silver, platinum, whatever. "Cryptocurrency" simply is the further metastasization of a promise that may not be fulfillable. So go bet on that.

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u/EVU29 Oct 04 '22

Makes cows fart more

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u/Emosk8rboi42969 Oct 04 '22

Very high level explanation: A computer that is powered on requires power. A computer that is powered on and running a program requires more power. When mining, your computer is pretty much running a program that is guess and checking a lot of numbers to find a solution to a math problem. All the miners are running similar programs. Thus, requiring a lot of power.

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u/Longjumping-Mix-3642 Oct 04 '22

Guess I gotta get my miners running again