Is Crypto Collapse Good or Bad for Climate Change?


One bitcoin cost $1 in April 2011, hit an all-time high of about $65,000 in the year 2022, and is now valued at around $48,000. Because some bitcoin investors have become billionaires overnight, an increasing number of individuals are interested in the idea of becoming wealthy through cryptocurrency investments. However, Bitcoin’s growing popularity may make it difficult for the globe to avoid the worst effects of climate change, due to the cryptocurrency’s massive energy usage and far-reaching environmental repercussions.

Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Dogecoin, are among the most polluting “proof-of-work” cryptocurrencies, utilize roughly 300 terawatt-hours (TW/h) of mostly fossil-fuelled power per year. Bitcoin emits around 114 million tonnes of CO2 every year. This is about the same as 380,000 space rocket launches or the Czech Republic’s yearly carbon impact. Proof-of-work mining may be viewed as a regulated kind of energy waste. The procedure entails expert computers taking a series of random guesses at a large string of digits. The hash rate of the network refers to the amount of processing power allocated to this endeavour. The cost of setting up the computers and the energy required to power them determines whether or not the guessing game is profitable. The majority of the world’s proof-of-work mining devices are powered by coal-fired power plants. The greater the price of a cryptocurrency, the more money mining companies are willing to spend on energy until the costs of winning surpass the benefits. With the price of bitcoin declining, there should be less financial motivation to spend electricity mining bitcoin. In principle, this is beneficial to the environment. Surprisingly, the network’s hash rate (and carbon footprint) is still hovering around 200 quintillion hashes per second. Because of the continuous interest, bitcoin mining is likely still lucrative at present pricing.

Bitcoin and other similar blockchain networks have been brought into a broader conversation about sustainability in recent months due to their consumption of electricity. However, the great potential for smart contracts to aid in the fight against climate change has been underestimated. Smart contracts are entirely traceable, transparent, and irreversible self-executing contracts that function on blockchains.

Smart contracts allow us to develop globally accessible and fully automated incentive systems that directly recompense individuals, corporations, and governments for taking part in sustainable activities such as regenerative agriculture, carbon offsets, crop insurance, and more. Combating climate change will necessitate a dramatic shift in global purchasing habits, and smart contracts are an ideal tool for encouraging participation in global green activities.

Regenerative agriculture

Enabling regenerative agricultural programs is one of the most essential ways that smart contracts can engage ordinary people in the battle against climate change. These activities include attempts to motivate communities all over the world to lower their carbon footprints by implementing more sustainable land-use practices, which often comprise a combination of tree planting and conservation.

Conscious consumption

Smart contracts can also help environmentally conscious individuals and enterprises. If a person successfully initiates a reforestation smart contract, they may be reimbursed in the form of a tokenized carbon credit, which could subsequently be sold to charitable organizations, crowdfunding campaigns, or even enterprises trying to demonstrate their environmental impact. Because tokenized carbon credits can only be granted if satellites or IoT devices indicate significant reforestation to a smart contract, these organizations can verify that their money has had a legitimate impact.

Hedging risk with the crop insurance

Weather patterns are already evolving as a result of climate change. Farmers all over the world, the great majority of whom are uninsured, are particularly sensitive to changes in weather patterns, such as rain, drought, wind, and other factors. Traditional insurance firms have failed to offer enough coverage to small-time farmers in developing nations, even though 75 percent of agricultural risks remain uninsured. As a result, the majority of people lead insecure lives. Bad weather may devastate farmers’ financial well-being, causing families to be uprooted and farmland to be destroyed or abandoned. If the effects of climate change continue to worsen, the consequent instability will undoubtedly disproportionately harm farmers.

Smart contracts show that blockchain technology is much more than simply decentralized money, just as the internet is much more than just email today. The coming together of blockchains and oracles is ushering in a new era of smart contracts that can create entirely new types of sustainable human consumption incentives. As the climate change discussion intensifies, it’s vital to remember that the environmental impact of this industry will be decided by far more than any particular project’s consensus process.

The method of discovering the proper nonce that will produce the target hash is just trial and error—much like a criminal trying a variety of passwords to get access to your account—and can take billions of tries. Bitcoin is expected to need 707 kWh every transaction because of the hundreds of thousands or more machines churning out estimates. Computers also consume more energy since they produce heat and must be kept cold. Bitcoin mining consumes 121.36 terawatt-hours per year, according to a University of Cambridge study. This is higher than the combined consumption of Argentina and the United States.

SM Promotion: The rise in popularity of cryptocurrency may make it more difficult for the world to avoid the worst effects of climate change, but if bitcoin values fall, it may help to mitigate climate change. The more a cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin or blockchain, appreciates in value, the more money mining businesses are ready to spend on electricity until the costs of winning outweigh the advantages, causing climate change.

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