Cryptocurrencies harm the environment, at least indirectly. According to a recent study by economists Alex de Vries and Christian Stoll of the Dutch central bank and MIT, each bitcoin transaction generates the same amount of electronic waste as throwing two iPhones in the trash.
Until now, it had been warned that these mining tasks – creating a unit of the cryptocurrency in exchange for keeping it – consumed the same energy resources as the Philippines and the greenhouse gas pollution it causes as a result.
However, a study by Galaxy Digital, published during the first months of 2021, defended that the expense was not that bad, noting that bitcoin mining used only half the energy than the traditional banking system consumes.
In this sense, De Vries and Stoll assure that the harmful effects of cryptocurrencies on the planet that concern the most are those that have a direct impact on the environment.
The hardware you use to mine bitcoins is not used for any other technological activity.
The search for greater efficiency has led to the adoption of more specialized teams. The downside is that, once the equipment is declared obsolete for bitcoin mining it is impossible to use them for another activity or even the mining of other cryptocurrencies.
In this sense, the researchers estimate that Bitcoin mining devices have a life average useful life of only 1.29 years, a life too short to amortize.
The study points out that in 2020 alone, 112.5 million bitcoin transactions were carried out and each of them produced 272 g of electronic waste. That is, the weight of two iPhone 12 Mini.
The bitcoin, in total, would generate 30.7 kilotonnes of waste annually. This figure is comparable to the amount of electronic waste that the Netherlands can produce.
The bitcoin, in total, would generate 30.7 kilotonnes of waste annually.
This is because the computers used to mine cryptocurrencies have a very short lifespan. Therefore, each transaction is a death blow to these types of machines, which are only used for this purpose.
Experts predict that this environmental problem with bitcoins will increase over time if its price, which is variable, continues to rise. It makes sense, because the more value of the cryptocurrency, the more it will be mined and the more computers will be used.
The solution to cut the impact of bitcoin mining on the environment is through redo the mining process again and create a more sustainable alternative: proof of stake, to which Ethereum will be switched.
The accelerating cycle of bitcoin mining has also contributed to various distortions in the markets. Some of the first to notice the problems were video game fans, given the use of GPUs in mining and the consequent increase in prices has increased the costs of these boards.
Now, other production chains, such as solid-state drives, which have started to have problems with provisioning these storage devices, are used to mine other currencies.