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Bitcoin (CCC:BTC-USD) is in the news these days, not for its economic volatility but over the cryptocurrency’s perceived environmental harm.
The thinking is that Bitcoin mining and other blockchain validation processes should be environmentally sustainable.
This has led to a huge wave of demand for “green cryptos,” with investors trying to pick the next big altcoin that could usurp Bitcoin’s throne as the king of crypto.Green Cryptos and Proof-of-Stake
Barron’s recently reported that a number of ESG-focused investors (environmental, social, governance) are concerned “that Bitcoin is contributing to global warming.” Here is what their argument, according to Barron’s:
“A lot of electricity — used by computers ‘mining’ Bitcoin — is still generated by burning fuels such as coal and natural gas. ESG investors appear to have swayed Musk to stop accepting Bitcoin as payment for Tesla vehicles…”
Keep in mind that Bitcoin mining is not non-green per se. For example, Bitcoin or Ethereum (CCC:ETH-USD) crypto miners that use electricity derived from coal or gas could be non-green. But Bitcoin or Ethereum mined from solar, geothermal, wind, hydropower, or battery sources are renewable green cryptos.
But there’s no getting around the fact that “proof-of-work” cryptocurrencies that utilize mining are very energy intensive, no matter where that energy comes from. As Georgetown University Associate Professor James Angel tells InvestorPlace:
“Bitcoin relies upon an extremely wasteful ‘proof of work’ algorithm that currently consumes the equivalent of 15 Chernobyl nuclear power plants running around the clock. An increase in the price of bitcoin brings in more mining activity and thus more electricity consumption. And bitcoin’s capacity is limited by design to seven transactions per second.
There are more efficient technologi...