Many mining practices conjure up images of environmental damage: black dust from coal digging, spewing oil from petroleum drilling, and the erosion and contamination of the soil from metal extracting. Now, the virtual mining for riches is on the rise thanks to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that are spreading in popularity globally.
Even though mining for cryptocurrency is a digital, not a physical, process, some say this mining is just as bad for the planet.
1. Bitcoin Is Drilling Up A Ton Of Prospectors
You’ve heard of Bitcoin, and you know all the buzz surrounding it. You can buy cryptocurrencies or you can mine for them. Mining involves using computer processing power to validate transactions and create the “blockchain” – the public ledger that is at the core of the currency’s anonymity and security.
2. Mining The Well Of Processing Power
New Bitcoins are released to miners as rewards for solving mathematical challenges relating to creating the blockchain. Bitcoin mining is performed through computer processing power. Initially, mining used any computer’s central processing unit or CPU. Now, higher-speed graphical processing units, GPUs, are used.
But these processors aren’t cheap to operate.
3. Mining Takes A Lot Of Electricity
Although mining results in earned Bitcoin without having to purchase it on an exchange, the process requires a considerable amount of electricity. It is widely estimated that global bitcoin mining industry uses over 30 terawatt hours of electricity annually. This is on par with the total yearly energy use of Morrocco, Ireland, and Denmark.
And the reason for the huge energy demand is how mining has become a lot like farming.
4. Mining Farms Are Taxing The Electronic Grid
Bitcoin mining farms, like the one pictured here, involve huge racks of mining machines operating 24/7 cranking out calculations. The processers need energy to run, but they also must be cooled by large batteries of fans.
Some operations have tens of thousands of machines, and you’ll never guess where one of the largest farms is located.