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Whether or not creating bitcoins is bad for the environment is one of the most contentious convos around crypto. And this is the crypto space we’re talking about.
The art (science?) of creating some digital coins is called mining. But these aren’t the Mines of Moria we’re talkin’ about—instead of mithril, miners are chiseling away at a bunch of complicated math problems from college hell. Whoever solves each problem first gets their trophy in the form of crypto. Rinse and repeat.
Mining companies like Riot Blockchain do this, but so does Joe Schmo in his basement. You just need the right computers and the desire (and Benjamins) to get involved in *gestures widely at the chaos that is Web3.*
The issue is that said computers need to gobble up Halloween candy-level gobs of energy in order to keep on runnin’ when they’re creating crypto, via what’s called proof of work. It’s how bitcoins are made. Some ether was previously mined, but now it’s added to the blockchain via “staking,” a good-for-Mother-Earth method that doesn’t eat energy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. (No, candy corn is not a vegetable.)
That difference has been a line in the sand for many people, particularly in the political sphere—the same folks fighting big oil on policy are also typically shaking a finger at the crypto mining industry.
There are even in-person conferences devoted to both sides, where disciples band together to discuss mining operations or sustainable blockchain practices.
Alan Ransil of Filecoin Green, a project backed by Protocol Labs, just hosted one of the latter—the Sustainable Blockchain Summit.
Ransil thinks mining’s environmental impact is “real and significant,” he told Incrypto. Whereas Dennis Porter, a political strategist who runs the pro-mining nonprofit Satoshi Action Fund, argues bitcoin mining can be fueled by gases we’re trying to eliminate, like methane, and can shut down whenever local power grids need to conserve energy, unlike steel plants.
Bottom line: Mining crypto is either not an environmentally friendly business, or is totes worth the energy-sucking, bro. It all depends on which mining camp you’re in.—KC