Mining Bitcoin May Reduce Carbon Emissions Says Blockstream CEO Adam Back

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Adam Back believes that bitcoin mining is ‘probably, actually’ reducing carbon emissions. His comments directly contradict the mainstream media narrative which seems at pains to paint bitcoin as an environmental bogeyman. 

Now Back has stated his belief that BTC is more likely to be an environmental benefit rather than a burden. The Blockstream CEO said his thinking on the matter has been influenced by discussions with bitcoin developer and ‘anarchist’ Erik Voskuil, author of ‘Cryptoeconomics: Fundamental Principles of Bitcoin.’ 

In an audio clip shared via the Blockstream Twitter account earlier this month, Back concluded that BTC miners might otherwise engage in other consumerist activities which would be more damaging to the environment.

Maybe bitcoin is probably, actually reducing a number of pollutive and carbon-producing things in the world,” said Back.“For example, it’s really reducing gold mining because I think people are starting to realize that gold prices would be higher if bitcoin was not monetizing – and gold mining is an extremely industrial and chemical process.

While mainstream media portrays bitcoin mining as though existing in a bubble, industry players such as Voskuil, and now Back, are taking a more holistic view, pointing out the inter-connected relationship between cryptocurrencies and other industries.

Bitcoin energy consumption updates

A fair observer might reasonably expect that an honest conversation about the environmental impact of BTC mining should compare it to the energy consumption of the legacy financial system. In practice, this rarely happens outside of crypto-friendly publications.

The energy consumption of bitcoin accounts for 0.5% of global electricity demand. While this is often compared unfavorably to the energy consumption of smaller nation-states, the relevance of this comparison remains tenuous. Bitcoin performs much better when compared to other financial activities. 

Research from ARK Invest shows that bitcoin’s electricity consumption is less than 5% of the traditional banking sector and less than 45% of the gold mining sector. The case for crypto mining is further improved when you add in other costs such as fuel consumption for money transportation, and the environmental cost of printing money at its birth and disposing of it by incineration at death.

While some of these arguments are already familiar to crypto insiders, they merit repetition and reaffirmation from voices such as Back.


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Robert D Knight is a journalist and copywriter who has specialized in crypto for over four years. His varied experience includes freelancing, in-project contracts, agency work, and PR, giving him a holistic view of the blockchain industry.

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