Just because we can doesn’t mean we should. The new wave of cryptocurrency hype shows that we have not learned this climate lesson.
Everyone seems to love crypto right now. In the U.S., incoming New York City Mayor Eric Adams wants to make the Big Apple into the Crypto Apple, and Miami is close behind him.
“As Congressional leadership thinks through changes in the regulatory landscape for crypto, an important part that is often left out are the real negative climate and environmental justice effects, which merit close attention by policymakers. We, the more than 70 climate, economic, racial justice, business and local organizations, write to you today to urge Congress to take steps to mitigate the considerable contribution portions of the cryptocurrency markets are making to climate change and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions, environmental, and climate justice impacts it will have.”
The big issue
The letter points to massive energy needs to complete transactions with Bitcoin and Ethereum, the two largest cryptocurrencies. Miners compete to process transactions and they need major computer power to do it. The process gets harder as more miners compete, which means data centers, cooling systems, etc. The letter also throws in some blame for the semiconductor shortage due to the needs of these machines.
At its peak in May, Bitcoin mining consumed more energy than Argentina or Norway, so this is not a small problem. Maybe we need a new global summit to figure out how to go crypto without killing ourselves.