Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk recently added Bitcoin to both his bio and to Tesla’s investment repertoire, sending the decentralized digital currency soaring with a $1.5 billion (USD) investment from the company.
However, some analysts have criticized the company’s moves towards Bitcoin as an environmental disaster to-come.
Despite its virtual nature, the process of mining Bitcoin comes from a number of high-powered computers in competition against one another to solve complex mathematical problems, which utilizes a hefty amount of energy, according to Reuters.
"I'm a billionaire, made my money in car/battery/launch services, & would like to save the planet. In January I drunkenly bought $1.5Bn of bitcoin…
Is it likely my $100M carbon capture prize will lead to offseting the environmental damage from the bitcoin?" – someone, probably.
— Mike Chislett (@mikechislett) February 9, 2021
Currently, Bitcoin mining uses a huge amount of coal and other fossil fuels to power its hard-working computers, and it produces roughly 23 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year – similar amounts to the entire countries of Jordan and Sri Lanka. The process is also thought to use the same amount of energy as the Netherlands did in all of 2019.
Despite the environmental risks, Tesla is full speed ahead on Bitcoin and plans to start accepting payments in the cryptocurrency this year.
Still, some analysts think Tesla’s role in the cryptocurrency world may help reduce the harm of Bitcoin mining. The incentive to produce “green Bitcoin” is mounting, to be sure, and the industry could start seeing renewable energies being introduced to the field, alongside other solutions, like the purchase and sale of carbon credits.
Cryptocurrency think-tank 2B4CH founder Yves Bennaim believes that Bitcoin isn’t the problem, but rather our current standard energy practices may simply be the issue at hand – and not one that can’t be overcome.
Simply running an office building with air conditioning, for instance, uses a comparable amount of energy to Bitcoin mining in a year, and yet, it’s still common practice for tens of thousands of companies.
Bennaim said, “It’s not so much bitcoin that is the problem. People are saying it’s energy intensive therefore it’s polluting, but that is just the nature of the energy we are using today.” He continued, “As bitcoin goes up there will be more incentive to make investments in renewable sources of energy.”
There are there clean mining setups being used, but for the most part miners are in the Bitcoin game for profit and will use any energy necessary to ‘mine’ the remainder of what’s left out of the finite number of 21 million ‘coins’ available.
According to Statista, there are currently 18.62 million Bitcoins in circulation, so 2.38 million coins are still left to be mined. You better start mining some Bitcoin to pay fo your next Tesla purchase, right?
Contributing Writer at TeslaNorth.com from California’s southeast Bay Area. Covers electric vehicles, space exploration, and all things tech. Loves a good cup of coffee, live music and puppies. Buying a Tesla? Click here to get 1,000 free Supercharging miles.