Bitcoin, like the Internet, is arguably a neutral technology, letting anyone, anywhere access its blockchain.
However, one prominent futurist — the chief executive of a major technology firm — has argued that the cryptocurrency is inherently “bad for humanity”. Here’s why.
Bitcoin Is “Climate Intolerant”
Pat Gelsinger, the CEO of major cloud computing and virtual machine company VMWare, recently sat down with Fortune to talk Bitcoin.
Contrary to what his technology background may suggest, Gelsinger asserted that he isn’t a fan of the cryptocurrency, bashing what he believes is a high level of energy consumption for the utility it provides to humanity. In fact, he suggested that it is contributing to the ongoing “climate crisis” that many scientists and politicians actively discuss:
“It takes the energy of a home, half-a-home a day, to do a single entry into a Bitcoin ledger.”
Indeed, from the perspective of an outsider, Bitcoin seems to be only hurting the environment. A website from researchers at the University of Cambridge revealed earlier this year that the miners backing the Bitcoin network consume more than seven gigawatts of electricity.
Over the course of a year that’s equal to around 64 TWh or terawatt-hours of energy consumption. This amounts to about 0.25% of the world’s annual electricity consumption, which, for an asset seemingly only used by the fringe, seems quite crazy.
However, CoinShares estimates that a majority of Bitcoin miners are powered by renewable, green energy sources. In a 19-page report released late last year, the crypto investment and research firm, claimed that renewable energy makes 77.6% of total Bitcoin mining, citing the concentration of renewable energies in areas where Bitcoin miners are, namely China, Iceland, the west coast of the U.S., and the west coast of Canada.
They followed this estimate up this year by claiming that some 75% of Bitcoin mining is renewable.
Other sources have verified these claims. In a post for HackerNoon, Robert Sharratt, a former employee of the Natural Resources & Power Group, wrote that Bitcoin is primarily powered by Chinese hydro electricity:
“I recently spoke several times and at length to former power industry colleagues in Hong Kong. Their estimate is that more than 80% of all Chinese miners are located in Sichuan province. The vast majority of power produced in Sichuan is from hydro power.”
Bitcoin Can Be Used For Crime
The “Bitcoin is killing the Earth” narrative wasn’t the only one that Gelsinger utilized. He added in the Fortune interview that he believes Bitcoin is primarily used for illicit activities, and is thus “bad for humanity”.
Gelsinger’s comment is quite reminiscent of those made by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and other world leaders over recent weeks.
As reported by Blockonomi previously, Pompeo told CNBC last week that the anonymous/pseudonymous transactions that cryptocurrencies can enable do pose a security threat or “risk” to America and its allies.
The Trump advisor went on to cite 9/11, invoking the terrorist attack to paint a narrative that this new class of digital payment networks may not be conducive to the safety of humanity.
They aren’t exactly wrong. The New York Times recently came out with a lengthy post about how Hamas is using Bitcoin to fund operations. Also, Ciphertrace found that cryptocurrency crime is a multi-billion dollar industry.
However, it is important to point out that there are many using Bitcoin as an investment vehicle or as a way to hedge against the fiat system, which may be hurting them. Just look to Cyprus a number of years ago, when Bitcoin spiked in the midst of a seemingly inhumane crackdown on banks.