Cryptocurrencies’ carbon footprint

Cryptocurrencies’ carbon footprint

Lots of excitement about the
high price Beeple’s artwork using non-fungible tokens captured at Christie’s. A smart editorial by Michael Connor at Rhizome points out that many artists work with cryptocurrency. Connor minimizes the issue of the huge electrical consumption and consequent carbon footprint of cryptocurrency.

For the bigger picture of cryptocurrencies’ carbon footprint: “A large number of independent studies … calculated that Bitcoin mining alone required about 60 to 70 billion kWh of electrical energy in 2019. If other cryptocurrencies are also included, it can be assumed that 70 to 90 billion kWh/a of electrical energy is currently required for cryptocurrency mining” (Borderstep Institute). Bitcoin is “mined” where energy is cheapest, which in many places means coal (in 2014, 93% of Mongolia’s energy derived from coal--energypedia).
So for a conservative estimate of cryptocurrencies’ carbon footprint, multiply 80 billion KwH by The Shift Project’s global average carbon intensity factor, 0.519 kgCO
2e/kWh. That’s 41,520,000,000 kilograms of CO2 and equivalent greenhouse gases. Converting using the Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies calculator, that’s the carbon equivalent of about 5500 tanker trucks of gasoline. It would take 69 million tree seedlings growing for 10 years to sequester it. Bitcoin artists, get planting!

“Lean ICT Materials,”
https://theshiftproject.org/en/lean-ict-2/
Borderstep-Datacenter-2018_en.pdf,
https://www.borderstep.org/

Here’s a crypto-art carbon calculator
And Everest Pipkin’s
post “Here Is the Article You Can Send to People When They Say “But the Environmental Issues With Cryptoart Will Be Solved Soon, Right?”