What is the Full Picture of Bitcoin’s Environmental Impact?

Within the ever-evolving crypto ecosystem, one question remains: how severe is the environmental impact? While decentralization is clearly the future of finance, the conversation about its energy consumption is one that has prompted questions about the frameworks currently in place. In particular, many critics are looking at Bitcoin and its presumed, substantial carbon footprint. 

Despite the commonly reported concerns, a new report suggests crypto mining uses less energy than the traditional financial industry. However, this is definitely not what the mainstream media outlets would report. As the environmental effect is further assessed, it’s important to note how easy it is to gauge energy usage within the crypto space. In many ways, that makes cryptocurrency an easy target for critics, even those who turn a blind eye to more serious environmental concerns. 

It is ironic that figures like Elon Musk are so quick to denounce Bitcoin over climate concerns when he has no issues mining lithium for Tesla’s electric cars. The push for clean energy is not a simple conversation that can be achieved overnight. 

While lithium batteries power our phones, laptops, and electric cars, they are also responsible for numerous environmental concerns. Even though the process of mining lithium can be cost-effective, it uses a ton of water, which has a huge impact on local agriculture. As well, in places like Tibet, toxic chemicals from lithium mining can leak into the water supply. Research in Nevada found the impact on wildlife as far as 150 miles away from a lithium processing operation. 

Lithium mine in Western Australia

I bring up all this to prove that there are always two sides to every story. While we should still be critical of cryptocurrency’s energy consumption, we also need to make sure we are looking at the big picture. By demonizing cryptocurrency, we risk losing sight of more pressing environmental issues. 

Are you familiar with the environmental conversation surrounding Bitcoin? What are your thoughts? 

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