Bitcoin and blockchain’s decentralised database technology will lead to an environmental disaster
With the already monumental energy consumption this technology requires, and the accelerating rate of growth of blockchain technology, many have warned of what a big environmental disaster blockchain technology could represent. As so much computing power is needed across many servers to verify a decentralised blockchain database, the power consumption of Bitcoin mining alone is thought to currently be greater than that of some countries entirely. This would mean that Bitcoin alone is already indirectly responsible for several million tonnes of carbon emissions, and with the popularity and implementation of this technology growing, this problem will only get worse.
Blockchain's power consumption is difficult to measure, as the industry is spread across the world and is fairly secretive, dealing with encrypted information. Alex de Vries, an analyst and blockchain specialist, tried to establish a detailed estimate, averaging blockchain's consumption to an annual amount of 32TWh as of December 2017, which is the estimated consumption for the whole of Denmark (2014). However these estimates are based on assumptions that all parties working with cryptocurrencies are using energy efficient technology, and due to the fact that many miners may use less advanced solutions the actual consumption is likely much higher. The ultimate price of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies will be worse than an economic crash, they will be a major contributor to climate change, accelerating a problem we currently have no solution for.