Suistainable Blockchain The Meta Economist

Blockchain: sustainable technology or not?

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BLOCKCHAIN ECO SUSTAINABLE - The biggest revolutions the world is experiencing today is the energy transition to green energy sources and the digital transformation. The latter is based fundamentally on Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) and especially on blockchain and all its possible applications. Can the two transitions go hand in hand? There are those who are convinced they can, however, there are those who are not convinced. Let’s analyze the reasons and objections of both parties.

Reasons why Blockchain is not eco sustainable

The biggest challenges that are brought to the Blockchain is not the technology itself, but the operations to which it gives life. In particular, we are talking about mining. This is the process of sharing the computing power of the hardware participating in the network. That is, the operation needed to generate new cryptocurrencies, verify their authenticity and certify the various transactions. Mining objectively requires a high rate of energy:

  • to keep the computer on while the transactions are being made, the computer must never go into standby or turn off during the operation;
  • to prevent overheating of the hardware through different internal and external cooling processes.

The Bitcoin/Ethereum Energy Consumption Index of the University of Cambridge, a center responsible for examining the environmental impact of the blockchain, has shown that to make a single Bitcoin transaction takes about 2,100 kilowatt hours (kWh). Additionally, it estimated that in 2021 alone, Bitcoins produced over 56.8 million tons of CO2. These numbers are impressive when you think about the energy needed to power a single Bitcoin transaction is equivalent to what an average US family consumes in 75 days.

Objection

The data reported by the Bitcoin/Ethereum Energy Consumption Index of the University of Cambridge are objective and undeniable, as are those published by the magazine Resources, Conservation and Recycling. They say that Bitcoins have generated almost 31,000 tons of electronic waste so far; In the future, if changes are not made, they will tend to grow exponentially. How can you object to the evidence? Simple, you can’t.

But what you can do, is propose solutions that can make changes to these polluting trends. For example, Hamid-Reza Khoyi, a Swiss auditor, says that it is possible to reduce the environmental impact of cryptocurrencies and Blockchain by using renewable and green energy sources to power computers and all hardware cooling sources.

Even today, when it comes to the sustainability of Blockchain, growth in efficiency is not taken into account. In fact, the DLT technologies we use today have not yet reached their full potential in terms of productivity, effectiveness and efficiency. This means that over time they will need less and less "fuel" to operate and perform various operations. As a result, their environmental footprint will also decrease dramatically. But in the meantime, we look for buffer solutions that can momentarily remedy the problem pending the final solution.

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