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Bitcoin and the Environment

22 April 2022

NOAH Series

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Bitcoin and the Environment

Discussing Bitcoin and the environment. We'll dispel myths, consider climate concerns, and investigate Bitcoin's potential positive impact on the environment.

Bitcoin and the Environment

Disruptive technologies make waves. They start as small ripples in the ocean of our lives and before we know it, they grow into tsunamis of change. But inherent to these technologies is their capacity to create irritation and unease. Change is scary — sometimes painful — especially when that change could upend the status quo. Humans have a tendency to gravitate toward routine and cling to the familiar.

However, this discourse has been largely one-sided, with nary a mention of the potential benefits that Bitcoin could have on lifting billions out of poverty, providing new economic opportunities, and decentralizing power away from legacy authority.

When something threatens the familiar, it's only natural that skepticism, fear, and even anger swell in the hearts of people who have been previously satisfied with their ways of life. Skepticism is good, healthy, and productive; however, as emotion inserts itself into the equation, healthy discussion can get lost in the process.

When it comes to Bitcoin, arguably the most disruptive financial technology of our time, there has been growing concern over its impact on the environment. The heart of this discourse is for good reason — human contribution to climate change is a global crisis, and if Bitcoin were to meaningfully contribute to this crisis, it would be a major problem. However, this discourse has been largely one-sided, with nary a mention of the potential benefits that Bitcoin could have on lifting billions out of poverty, providing new economic opportunities, and decentralizing power away from legacy authority.

Furthermore, when talking about Bitcoin and the environment, dominant narratives fail to explain how Bitcoin mining can actually help reduce carbon emissions, power the green revolution, and serve as a key player in the switch to renewable energy. Sounds crazy, right? It’s not, which is why a main aim of this series is to show why it’s not so crazy.

Much of the data criticizing Bitcoin's energy consumption is predicated on poor science, selective manipulation of data, and consistently irresponsible extrapolations of worst-case scenarios.

We rarely question energy consumption when it supports our way of life, when it's linked to habits so deeply cemented into our routines. That cognitive dissonance is what allows us to maintain our energy-intensive lifestyles without a second thought. But when that energy is used for something new, something unfamiliar, we have no problem pointing fingers. Because Bitcoin is seen as a source of change, an alien presence, an entity that most of us don't use yet, it's much easier to target it and demonize it for its use of energy.

Moreover, it's vital to mention that much of the data criticizing Bitcoin's energy consumption is predicated on poor science, selective manipulation of data, and consistently irresponsible extrapolations of worst-case scenarios. Much of this discourse is provably false and does little more than to stoke the fires of fear, rather than present a well-reasoned and calm discussion of the issues at hand.

It's never easy to assume the defensive when it comes to our planet, but the Bitcoin community can no longer afford to be caught flat-footed on this issue. The time for a well-reasoned discussion is now.

In the coming months, NOAH will release a series of articles discussing Bitcoin and the environment. These articles will aim to set the record straight on Bitcoin, taking care to respectfully consider climate concerns while dispelling myths, engaging in open discussion, and looking at the potential positives that Bitcoin could have on the environment.

We hope that this series will provide some clarity and help move the discourse forward in a productive way. Stay tuned for more.

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