Technology: University of New Mexico researchers find Bitcoin mining is environmentally unsustainable
www.eurekalert.org
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Taken as a share of the market price, the climate change impacts of mining the digital cryptocurrency Bitcoin is more comparable to the impacts of extracting and refining crude oil than mining gold, according to an analysis published in Scientific Reports by researchers at The University of New Mexico. The authors suggest that rather than being considered akin to ‘digital gold’, Bitcoin should instead be compared to much more energy-intensive products such as beef, natural gas, and crude oil.

Each coin mined in 2021 caused $11,314 of climate damage, adding to the total global damages that exceeded $12 billion between 2016 and 2021.

It would be interestibg to see how BTC mining compares to the large data centres of big tech. There’s not much reliable data on that.

@pingveno@lemmy.ml
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14 meses

It would be interesting, but not particularly meaningful. Big tech is producing a service. BTC is producing a bubble.

@tardigrada@beehaw.org
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The bubble is made by humans. I feel that complementary currency systems could have a huge positive impact on local and regional societies (as it was often the case in history), and the blockchain technology could help us to get there. The vast majority of crypto projects appear to aim at something else, unfortunately.

@pingveno@lemmy.ml
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The problem with the dominant cryptocurrencies is that they aren’t backed by anything. For all of the issues with the US dollar, it is backed by a strong central bank that keeps the currency extremely dependable and a gigantic economy. Thus yes, I see crypto as being best as a complementary system rather than a standalone system.

@tardigrada@beehaw.org
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I respectfully disagree with the notion of a “strong” central bank. The vast majority of the total money supply (~90%) is created by commercial banks by lending money to companies and individuals. Central banks can influence the total amount lent by reserve ratio requirements, but in our fractional reserve banking system where commercial banks hold only a small fraction of their deposits in reserves, each commercial bank loan creates about 10 times more money than its initial volume. This is just book money literally created out of thin air, it “exists” only as the sum of agreements between the commercial banks and their debitors rather than as notes and coins, and the central bank is by no means involved in this process.

So don’t get me wrong, I don’t say we should get rid of fiat money. I just argue that we need much more complementary currency systems that we have now. Whether or not these systems are blockchain-based is a different question altogether (that doesn’t really matter imo, although I consider blockchain a good technology for this). Communities should be free to create new means of exchange. Each of these new systems will have their own drawbacks, too. So let different systems compete with each other.

@jorgesumle
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4 meses

economy

The US dollar is a Ponzi scheme. Blockchain allows transfers without the need of central banks (less costs, bureaucracy). Most cryptocurrencies are virtually deflationary, so they hold their value well, like gold. “Bad money drives out good”.

@pingveno@lemmy.ml
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14 meses

The key word you’re missing here is “The full faith and credit of the United States”. As in, there is a central bank sitting there with a bunch of levers where its #1 purpose is to keep the dollar stable. That bank is, in turn, backed by the taxation powers of the US government over the vast US economy. Every factory, every worker, every office. And they’ve kept the dollar remarkably stable for the past almost one hundred years. Meanwhile BTC’s value is governed solely on the hopes and dreams of people buying into it. If that ever falters, there will be nothing to stop BTC from sliding into oblivion.

@jorgesumle
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14 meses

As in, there is a central bank sitting there with a bunch of levers where its #1 purpose is to keep the dollar stable.

If they want to keep it stable, why do they print lots of money, which creates a huge inflation? It’s fake money.

And they’ve kept the dollar remarkably stable for the past almost one hundred years.

Yeah, $660 from 1900 have a relative inflated worth of $24,013.86 as of today. Remarkably stable!

That bank is, in turn, backed by the taxation powers of the US government over the vast US economy. Every factory, every worker

Just like the Denarius. Eventually all fiat currencies fail.

Meanwhile BTC’s value is governed solely on the hopes and dreams of people buying into it.

Well, it has banks from all over the world, countries, individuals, etc. using it, so you’re wrong. Not that I like Bitcoin, I prefer Monero.

If that ever falters, there will be nothing to stop BTC from sliding into oblivion.

I’d be happy if Bitcoin fails, and Monero and other better cryptocurrencies do well.

@pingveno@lemmy.ml
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14 meses

If they want to keep it stable, why do they print lots of money, which creates a huge inflation? It’s fake money.

They don’t, and there isn’t huge inflation. A nice, steady, low inflation encourages people not to hold onto currency for investment purposes. Currency is for moving goods and services within the economy, not as an investment in itself. That’s why deflation is such a drag on an economy. People start holding onto their money instead of either using it or investing it, thereby putting it to work.

Just like the Denarius. Eventually all fiat currencies fail.

First, the Denarius lasted for half a millennia. Not too shabby. Second, it was only because of mismanagement that it failed. Witness the oldest currency, Britain’s pound sterling, which has been in continuous use since 600 AD. We can’t tell what the future of the US dollar will bring, but its success will likely be tied to the US economy as a whole.

Well, it has banks from all over the world, countries, individuals, etc. using it, so you’re wrong. Not that I like Bitcoin, I prefer Monero.

They’re tentatively dipping their toes in the water, and for the most part not holding onto it as a dependable store of value. There are no economies based on a cryptocurrency. You can’t go out and buy a car. People don’t typically get paid. It’s just too volatile.

I’d be happy if Bitcoin fails, and Monero and other better cryptocurrencies do well.

Okay, then what are they backed by? Nothing, so it’s too volatile to use as a dependable store of value. Any currency without a strong backing will be susceptible to fluctuating at the whims of buyers.

@jorgesumle
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14 meses

They don’t, and there isn’t huge inflation.

Not huge? “They observed that in November 2021 inflation for durable goods was 14.9%, compared to 10.7% for consumable goods and just 3.8% for services in the United States”. There is even a Wikipedia article.

We can’t tell what the future of the US dollar will bring, but its success will likely be tied to the US economy as a whole.

Then it won’t have a bright future.

There are no economies based on a cryptocurrency. You can’t go out and buy a car. People don’t typically get paid. It’s just too volatile.

Of course not, “Bad money drives out good”.

Okay, then what are they backed by?

Math, people using it, value it provides (for example, with Monero I can buy weapons without revealing my identity, transfer money between to and from sanctioned countries, move money online without paying taxes…), its scarcity. Personally, I trust bitcoin more than I trust the government #shorts". Also gold and silver are a good store of value. But, of course, there are many bullshit cryptocurrencies that don’t provide any significant value.

@pingveno@lemmy.ml
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04 meses

Not huge? “They observed that in November 2021 inflation for durable goods was 14.9%, compared to 10.7% for consumable goods and just 3.8% for services in the United States”. There is even a Wikipedia article.

First, that’s likely annualized, so it’s not 14.9%, 10.7%, and 3.6% over the course of just one month. It’s also way better than how Bitcoin has fared, having lost 50% of its value against the dollar between July 6 and 18 alone. In total, that’s a long slide from 64k USD on November 12, 2021 to 18k USD today. Monero shows no signs of being different.

Then it won’t have a bright future.

Despite what this echo chamber is telling you, the US is unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon. A US$21 trillion economy doesn’t disappear overnight, even if it does have some bumpy spots ahead.

Of course not, “Bad money drives out good”.

Could you explain the relevance? Neither crypto nor fiat currency rely on the currency being made of a commodity metal.

Math, people using it, value it provides

This is the problem. It is based on a breath of wind. No one backs it, no one attempts to maintain it. It’s based entirely on feelings. If people feel less than confident that the currency will maintain value, POP, the bubble bursts, and no more value.

Personally, I trust bitcoin more than I trust the government #shorts".

Ask yourself this. The Fed is tasked with keeping the dollar stable and dependable. Who is looking out for bitcoin users? For Monero users? Who is trying to keep your retirement savings from being effectively worthless? No one. Then compare that to the dollar. Put your retirement money into a Vanguard fund over the course of a few decades and it will grow dependably. That man can talk a big game about Wall Street conspiracies, but he really has no idea what he’s doing.

@jorgesumle
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14 meses

Could you explain the relevance? Neither crypto nor fiat currency rely on the currency being made of a commodity metal.

People keep gold and crypto (“good money”), because they maintain their value, and people spend euros, dollar, etc. (“bad money”), because they keep losing value. But crypto has another advantage, you can transfer money very easily without a banking system, without sanctions from US freezing your money, like it happened with to Russian people keeping money “safe” in a bank account.

You can more easily store a simple crypto wallet that doesn’t take as much space as gold.

@pingveno@lemmy.ml
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14 meses

Okay, but under the good money/bad money hypothesis, good money maintains its worth from what it is made of, usually commodity metals. Crypto isn’t made of anything but an entry on the blockchain, so how can it be good money?

@jorgesumle
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13 meses

good

Crypto is a network of computers working together to support a network, transactions, electricity, Internet connections, it’s not simply an entry on a blockchain. Rare metals are mostly valuable because they are scarce. Same with crypto. Of course, if the crypto doesn’t provide any value, it’s useless, many cryptos are useless speculative shit, a little part of them provide something valuable. Gold and silver also have some industry uses, but mostly they are and were valuable because they were scarce.

Gold’s value is ultimately a social construction: it is valuable because we all agree it has been and will be in the future. The same with crypto.

@jorgesumle
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14 meses

It’s also way better than how Bitcoin has fared, having lost 50% of its value against the dollar between July 6 and 18 alone. In total, that’s a long slide from 64k USD on November 12, 2021 to 18k USD today. Monero shows no signs of being different.

Last 5 year Monero growth relative to the dollar: 142.28 USD +48.05 (+50.74%). Of course, if you only focus on the bubbles… In short, Monero is becoming more valuable than the dollar… Bitcoin (+227.92%) last five years, but I wouldn’t bet on Bitcoin. I think Bitcoin is overvalued. I recommend this video to understand why the dollar will lose lots of value in the not so distant future.

This is the problem. It is based on a breath of wind. No one backs it, no one attempts to maintain it. It’s based entirely on feelings. If people feel less than confident that the currency will maintain value, POP, the bubble bursts, and no more value.

OK, you don’t get how blockchain works. Miners and servers all around the world maintain the network. The more people use it, the more valuable and resilient it is. The dollar is not backed by any commodity like gold or silver, it’s fiat money.

This is what happened to the Deutsche mark, backed by Germany.

The future of US dollar

The US Ponzi scheme is not immune to this, specially without oil to back the value of the dollar…

That man can talk a big game about Wall Street conspiracies, but he really has no idea what he’s doing.

LOL, that man is Robert Kiyosaki has a net worth of $100 million and teaches financial education. You don’t get that rich by luck.

Put your retirement money into a Vanguard fund over the course of a few decades and it will grow dependably.

Stock market’s fall has wiped out $3 trillion in retirement savings this year. Those people lost money… If they need to retire the money now, they’ve lost money. Also add that loss to the current huge inflation loss…

@pingveno@lemmy.ml
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04 meses

Last 5 year Monero growth relative to the dollar: 142.28 USD +48.05 (+50.74%).

Cool. Bitcoin also had periods of extreme growth, and it has had times recently where the value collapsed.

OK, you don’t get how blockchain works. Miners and servers all around the world maintain the network. The more people use it, the more valuable and resilient it is. The dollar is not backed by any commodity like gold or silver, it’s fiat money.

No, I know quite well how blockchains work. I know enough to see that it’s not backed by any source of value whatsoever. Commodity-backed currency has its value in the commodity, fiat money has its value in the economy of the issuing country. “The more people use it” can’t magically form a backing, so it is backed fully on faith. If that faith ever falters, it will collapse.

The US Ponzi scheme is not immune to this, specially without oil to back the value of the dollar…

Ok, you don’t get how a Ponzi scheme works.

This is what happened to the Deutsche mark, backed by Germany.

The mark in the Weimar Republic was fabulously mismanaged. The critical problem was that they issued money to pay massive war debts without a corresponding economy to back it.

LOL, that man is Robert Kiyosaki has a net worth of $100 million and teaches financial education. You don’t get that rich by luck.

I’m aware of him, and I’ve heard some of his advice. It’s… questionable and his books have been criticized as full of nonsense. As for his net worth, he’s sold 30 million books and I’m sure does other things. Of course he has bundles of money. Doesn’t mean that he has good advice.

Stock market’s fall has wiped out $3 trillion in retirement savings this year. Those people lost money… If they need to retire the money now, they’ve lost money. Also add that loss to the current huge inflation loss…

That’s why you don’t judge based on one year. What is important is the trend over decades of investment. At the beginning of the pandemic, the stock market briefly cratered and my retirement account when below the amount I had put in. Then a month later, the market recovered and I had gained again. Also, retirement isn’t a one time liquidation where one year could make or break you. You pull retirement money out slowly over the course of your retirement.

@jorgesumle
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fiat money has its value in the economy of the issuing country. “The more people use it” can’t magically form a backing, so it is backed fully on faith. If that faith ever falters, it will collapse.

If no one trusts the fiat money it has no value, no matter how big the economy. Remember German money before WW2? If nobody believes the currency has value, it’s worthless. It’s worth a thing because people have faith in the government. If that faith ever falters, it will collapse.

Ok, you don’t get how a Ponzi scheme works.

US Dollars are Created by a Debt-Based Pyramid Scheme, Fronted by an Investment-Based Ponzi Scheme With Extra Steps. Is the Fed running a Ponzi scheme?

It’s… questionable and his books have been criticized as full of nonsense.

Well, I’ve read some of them, and they aren’t full of nonsense.

As for his net worth, he’s sold 30 million books and I’m sure does other things. Of course he has bundles of money. Doesn’t mean that he has good advice.

If he’s made and kept more money than you, maybe he manages money better than you. What’s your net worth? I mean, it’s easy to speak…

Then a month later, the market recovered and I had gained again.

You’re being faithful, man. Markets can take decades to recover, just like it happened to the Japanese market.

The critical problem was that they issued money to pay massive war debts without a corresponding economy to back it.

COVID money print, Ukraine war…

Yeah, $660 from 1900 have a relative inflated worth of $24,013.86 as of today. Remarkably stable!

That’s 122 years though!

@pingveno@lemmy.ml
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14 meses

Exactly. Bitcoin, meanwhile, has been on a roller coaster ride since its inception. If I was trying to write a union labor contract for 5 years out, complete with salary ranges and schedules of raises, it would be nearly impossible.

@kitkat_new@lemmy.ml
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14 meses

Big tech is also producing ads

@pingveno@lemmy.ml
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14 meses

That is a common business model, yes. But BTC is literally just producing entries on a block chain that are of questionable value.

@kitkat_new@lemmy.ml
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14 meses

Ads are of questionable value as well

@pingveno@lemmy.ml
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13 meses

No disagreement from me, but they at least are a revenue model that funds providing a service. Mining BTC is just rewarding people for wasting energy, either theirs or someone else’s.

@dreiwert@szmer.info
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Big tech companies route loads of data through their data centers that could either be processed on the end users’ devices, or that aren’t needed at all for the services that help the end users. A comparison between the climate impact of all the big tech data center processing that is done for the sole purpose of the big tech companies and other factors relevant to climate would be both interesting and meaningful.

Edit: Funny to see downvoting without making a point. Regarding the latter mentioned source of serviceless resource wasting of big tech, see https://www.inkandswitch.com/slow-software/ (under “user-hostile work”). Regarding the former one, think about why your average smartphone keyboard implementation needs to phone home to the tech company’s data center, while there are implementations that work right on the device. Removing all this stuff could most likely greatly reduce the resource usage of today’s end user devices, and does not provide any useful service to the end users.

I hate both.

@Tiuku@sopuli.xyz
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04 meses

Proof of Work is robust and secure but pays a heavy price for it. Given that working alternative consensus models exist, I see no reason to support PoW coins.

@kevincox@lemmy.ml
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14 meses

I agree. I see Bitcoin as an incredibly valuable step in the research of decentralized consensus and running it as a network with such high stakes is a great prover. However it is clear that it is time for us to move on onto the generations of cryptocurrencies that have built on top of what we have learned from Bitcoin with further improvements such as privacy in Monero and efficiency with the Proof of Stake coins. Of course I don’t think this is the end, for example the biggest Proof of Stake coins aren’t private yet. So I look forward to generations of coins yet to come.

@jorgesumle
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14 meses

Proof-of-stake incentivizes the hoarding of coins, which can lead to centralization. Given that PoS coins aren’t private, unlike Monero, I see no reason to support them.

@phil_m@lemmy.ml
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Counterargument (that Proof of Work is not inherently better, IMHO worse, mostly because of environmental concerns):

Proof of Work incentivizes hoarding of useless electrical waste (long-term at least), the more you mine, the more you’ll want to invest into this useless hardware, to mine even more.

PoW only displaces the problem of wealth distribution. Most of the Proof of Stake currencies reward less (in % per block) than PoW currencies, thus they probably lead to less centralization. Additionally it’s just slower and doesn’t scale in comparison to PoS…

@jorgesumle
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14 meses

PoW only displaces the problem of wealth distribution.

Also, it’s more secure.

Proof of Work incentivizes hoarding of useless electrical waste (long-term at least), the more you mine, the more you’ll want to invest into this useless hardware, to mine even more.

“One of Monero’s philosophies is to maintain egalitarian mining, so that everyone can have the possibility to mine. To achieve this, Monero uses a particular algorithm ideated and developed by members of the Monero community: RandomX. This PoW algorithm is ASIC resistant, which means it’s impossible to build specialized hardware to mine Monero. Miners must use consumer-grade hardware and compete fairly”.

https://www.getmonero.org/get-started/mining/

@Tiuku@sopuli.xyz
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14 meses

Those are valid concerns. If I were to burn electricity for simple transactions, it would be Monero or some of its derivatives for sure. There at least you’re getting something in return, namely privacy.

However I think that environmental aspects overrule in the vast majority of cases.

You can make private Proof-of-stake coins (see: Particl), but Monero simply has too much going for it for people to make a switch

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