Remember how, a few years ago, we were briefly made to believe that all our Google searches were helping to melt the planet? If you recall how that claim was quickly debunked, it should come as no surprise that mining bitcoins might not be as much of an environmental disaster as a few sources have hyped either.
A recent headline in Bloomberg proclaimed that “virtual bitcoin mining is a real-world environmental disaster.” Citing statistics from blockchain.info, Bloomberg writer Mark Gimein warned, “If the dreams of Bitcoin proponents are realized, and the currency is adopted for widespread commerce, the power demands of bitcoin mines would rise dramatically.”
Not so fast. One, points out Nate Anderson of Ars Technica, power estimates for mining are speculative at best. Two, even assuming those numbers are correct, the amounts are “trivial” compared to how much US households use, says Forbes’ Tim Worstall.
Finally, unlike drilling for oil or mining for gold – which will likely continue for as long as humans believe there’s a chance they’ll find more – bitcoin mining has a hard deadline. The last of all 21 million bitcoins will have been mined by 2140.