Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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Bitcoin is now worth $50,000 — and it’s ruining the planet faster than ever

Eric Holthaus writes:

You might have already heard, but Bitcoin hit $50,000 this week. A lot of anarcho-nerds are very rich right now.

What you might not have heard – and what I wrote about a couple of times (1, 2) the last time Bitcoin’s price surged three years ago – is that the massive computer network that created and maintains the Bitcoin system uses an incredibly huge amount of energy.

Nothing fundamental has really changed since then. In fact, Bitcoin’s environmental footprint has gotten a whole lot worse.

In 2021, most Bitcoin is produced – mined – in China by massive computer servers solving unnecessarily complex math problems where subsidized coal-fired power plants produce some of the cheapest energy in the world. It’s a not-unlikely coincidence that a huge amount of Bitcoin is mined in Xinjiang province, the same place where Uighur Muslim minorities have been inflicted with horrific human rights abuses mining the very same coal used to create Bitcoin. [Continue reading…]

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