Yes! Mining bitcoins can be a profitable business. With the price of 47,674 US dollars per bitcoin (now), it’s certainly worth using everything needed to mine a few more bitcoins. However, not many people think of the impacts of mining on the planet and the people who live on it.
The real purpose of cryptocurrency is said to be ridding the world of the tyranny of the banking system and make the circulation of money as transparent as possible. These are all noble causes to fight for; however, the mining process of cryptocurrencies can negatively affect society and the environment.
How do cryptocurrencies harm the environment?
E-waste refers to electronic gadgets that are discarded and put into waste. This kind of waste contains toxic chemicals that seep into underground waters and poison them. Mining cryptocurrencies reduces the life of computer chips to 1.19 years. This means miners have to change their entire equipment every year or so. With the number of bitcoins mined every year, the amount of e-waste is skyrocketing.
According to the United Nations, bitcoin mining generates about 30,700 tons of e-waste every year. The chips used in the process are not ordinary. And instead, they are Application-specific Integrated Circuits that can be recycled only in parts.
Another issue with mining bitcoin and most of the other cryptocurrencies is the electricity they use. In order to generate or mine cryptocurrencies, a large number of computers have to work day and night. If the process is disconnected even for a minute, it will all have to start over again. Therefore, it is essential to run the computers 24/7 for long periods.
According to analyses, mining bitcoins takes between 75 and 150 terawatt-hours of electricity every year. That makes roughly 228,000 kilowatt-hours (KWH) for each bitcoin. This amount of energy is equal to what 18 American households use each year. Most of this energy is produced by burning fossil fuels, which means a horrible surge in carbon dioxide production.
40% of all the bitcoin in the world belongs to 1000 people. These people certainly do not mine the bitcoin in their backyards. The process is usually done in developing countries where space and electricity are much less expensive. For instance, the price of electricity in Germany is ten times more than it is in China, Kazakhstan, and Iran.
Using these countries as the basis for bitcoin mining seems like the economical thing to do. However, the mining operations directly affect the lives of the people who are not going to have a role in the process.
Thousands of people in these countries had to spend the hot summer without electricity, water, or internet because power stations were devoted to mining facilities. Hospitals went dark in the middle of the pandemic, causing hundreds of people to die because of equipment malfunction. Educational processes were disrupted due to a lack of electricity and slow internet speeds.
The developing countries with the most bitcoin mines are China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Iran, Mongolia, and many others, where energy is subsidized by the government and has a lower cost. The unsuspecting people of these countries had to endure the lack of their fundamental rights because 1000 people on the other side of the world wanted to get richer.
What’s the solution?
Telling which cryptocurrencies would be greener if they reached the volume and scale of bitcoin is very hard. Right now, there are a couple of candidates that seem to be more sustainable and cause less harm to the planet and the people. But who’s to say they will stay the same when they’ve reached about 50,000 dollars.
Hedera Hashgraph calls itself the third generation of cryptocurrencies. This means that Hedera does not take as much energy and bandwidth to be securely transacted. The transaction completion for bitcoin is about 10 to 60 minutes. For Hedera, however, this time has reached 3 to 5 seconds. What’s more, each bitcoin transaction takes more than 880 Kilowatt-hours of energy. On the other hand, Hedera takes only 0.00017 kilowatt-hours of power to be transacted.
Hedera prides itself on being trusted by many of the fortune 500 names in the market. Some of these names are Google, IBM, LG, Deutsche Telekom, TATA Communications, and Standard Bank.
Hedera Hashgraph company was founded in 2018 and so far has raised over $125 million in funding. Hedera Hashgraph’s currency, called HBAR, is currently traded for $0.3189. HBAR has a total supply of 50 billion units, 14% of which is currently in circulation. According to predictions, this amount will reach 34% by 2025.
Tezos has a considerable benefit over Bitcoin and Ethereum; that is, this currency is able to evolve with new waves of technology. This ability is called Self-amendment, and it enables Tezos to upgrade itself without having to “fork” or “split.” This is something that has caused enormous problems for the two of the best currencies in the market, Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Since August 2021, the price of Tezos has risen by almost 95% because of the upgrade it has completed. This currency’s market cap is currently $4.8 billion, and it is available in all the major cryptocurrency exchanges. Buying Tezos can be a risk. The truth is that in the future, the market for cryptocurrencies will settle down, and five or six main currencies will dominate the market. The question is whether Tezos going to be one of them?
The distinguishing feature of Nano is that it does not require mining, printing, or minting. This makes Nano more eco-friendly than the other currencies available these days. What’s more, transacting Nano crypto does not need any fees, and it’s quick and easy. This makes Nano available to everybody. The energy consumption for Nano is so low that it can be done on home computers without any special equipment.
Nano is currently traded for $4.26. This price reached its peak in the last three months on September 7th and then experienced a drop. There will be a total of 133,248,290 NANO available. In 2020, 39% of this amount was distributed. Now all of it is in circulation, which is a first in cryptocurrencies.
Cryptocurrencies can be a volatile and risky investment. However, it is an investment necessary for the future of the world. This is a wave that cannot be ignored anymore, and the question is which currencies to invest in.
The easy way is to put your money in the two well-known currencies: Bitcoin and Ethereum. On the other hand, putting more money in these currencies means more harm to the environment and the countries suffering undermining processes.
The more responsible solution would be to forego the unsustainable currencies for the greener and more eco-friendly ones. Paying attention to the “green” currencies will create a viable and livable future for the next generations.