On The Radio–Bitcoin and the environment

Bitcoin is a growing digital currency with real-life environmental consequences. (link)

Natalia Welzenbach-Marcu | January 15th, 2018

This week’s segment looks at Bitcoin, the rise of digital currency and its surprisingly large impact on the environment.


The rise of digital currency, Bitcoin, may be impacting the environment.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

There are lot of mixed feelings about Bitcoin. The currency has been slowly attracting investors as its value rose to $17,000 in December. Bitcoin is unique in that it is a completely digital product, and is not tied to any central bank. Transactions of the money are done between people directly, with no government authorities or banks involved.

Huge data centers use multiple computers to generate Bitcoin by processing algorithms, data chains, and complicated formulas. The entire process is difficult to follow, even for investors. The main problem with Bitcoin is the energy required to make it.

This year, the currency required 2 terawatts of energy to produce. That’s enough energy to power three million homes. As the currency grows, more and more algorithms need to be solved and worked through by these data centers. According to meteorologist Eric Holthaus, if Bitcoin is continuously mined at this rate, the energy consumption by 2019 would be enough to power the United States.

For more information, visit iowa-environmental-focus-dot-org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Betsy Stone.

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