So, where’s the truth? How much harm does mining actually do? Let’s have a look at the arguments of the mining advocates.
Myth One – Bitcoin Mining is Fueled by Coal
First, as Coinbase noted, there was a fundamental mistake in the research: the scientists assumed that Bitcoin mining is equal to a large part of China’s power grid, fueled by coal. Even if the world’s whole mining industry was, that would correspond to only 0.17% of the world’s total carbon emissions. But it isn’t, not by a long stretch.
Myth Two – Coal Energy is Cheap so Miners Use it
You might be surprised to know that burning coal is expensive, especially when compared to most modern renewables. To stay at profit, Bitcoin miners all over the world – China included – look for the cheapest energy available. Most often, this means using excess energy, or sustainable energy from renewable sources: and, luckily, both are becoming more available.
Myth Three – Miners Rely on Fossil Fuels
About half of the world’s mining population resides in Sichuan, which is 95% powered by hydro energy. As Alex de Vries noted, “Today, Bitcoin mining creates about the same pollution footprint per unit of energy as natural gas,” – all thanks to the cheapness and accessibility of hydroelectric power.
For all it’s worth, the increasing demand for green energy from miners is likely to have the reverse effect and it might contribute to the ecology instead of ruining it. Know what’s interesting about sustainable energy? While a certain part of it is used to power the grid, the rest just goes to waste. Mining, on the other hand, allows us to use it – and, actually, monetize it, bringing more profit to the country’s budget. And second, as infrastructure for clean energy grows, it becomes cheaper and more accessible for the masses.
With all that said, here comes another concern. Should China ban mining – and close access to one of the largest sustainable energy sources for the miners – would it mean that the whole industry has to go less green?
Well, let’s hope the world listens to people like De Vries, and it doesn’t happen.