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Climate Change Data Tied Falsely To Bitcoin

October 30, 2018


A report on climate change attempts to degrade the importance of Bitcoin’s design by tying it to global climate change. The report thoroughly estimates electricity usage in 2017 using data tied proportionally to the country of origin for Bitcoin transactions along with an estimated hardware used for any given block of transactions. Further, in using data from 2017, the report is focusing on a dramatically high transaction frequency that has proven to be much lower in 2018.


In order to make further predictions the research uses adoption rates proportional to other technologies that achieved mass adoption. They apply the rate wrongly to a rising number of transactions, instead of the the number of blocks. The inherent design of Bitcoin is such that a block of transactions is solved every 10 minutes.


10 Minute Block Time


Recent research estimates that mining could account for 0.5 percent of global energy usage by 2018, but these estimations are difficult to make. Not all miners are using the same hardware setup, and a recent article by a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh argues that the sources, not the amount, of energy is ultimately what matters. But still, this researcher acknoledgers that with increased use, there will not be a proportional increase of energy use


“If Bitcoin technology were to mature by more than 100 times its current market size, it would still equal only 2 percent of all energy consumption.” - Electrical and Computer Engineering with focus on Renewable Energy Researcher Katrina Kelly-Pitou


This 10 minute block time will never be changed because within the Bitcoin operational protocol, several systems are in blace to maintain a balance that will always output a blocktime of roughly 10 minutes. In this way, the report is wrongly citing transaction growth as use raised the alarm over Bitcoin (BTC)’s carbon footprint and its potential future impact on global warming, published on Nature.com Oct. 29.


Built In Security Use


The report notes that “60 percent of the economic return of the Bitcoin transaction verification process goes to electricity, at $0.05 per kWh and 0.7 kg of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e) emitted per kWh, [resulting in an] estimate that Bitcoin usage emits 33.5 metric tons of CO2e annually, as of May 2018.”


This misinterprets one of the mechanisms for maintaining the security of the Bitcoin network. Because the energy cost is such a large portion of what is ultimately earned, it creates a major pitfall for anyone who attempts to create false blocks. For miners, it is always more lucrative to participate in the network properly than to attempt to re-write any blocks, because any re-written block will be costly and not provide the mining reward that solving the active block provides every 10 minute.



By: BGN Editorial Staff

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