To produce the cryptocurrency requires more than the annual energy consumption of Ecuador and Paraguay
Leer en Español: ‘Minería’ de BitCoins pone en jaque al medio ambiente
The most popular virtual currency on the planet is the BitCoin. It was created in 2009 by "Satoshi Nakamoto", an anonymous Japanese who covers his identity under that pseudonym, giving a halo of mystery to this cryptocurrency. The BitCoin has increased its value by more than 2,200% only in the last year.
Recently, there have been critics about excessive energy expenditure and environmental impact as a result of the search for BitCoins in cyberspace. It is estimated that the global energy consumption for the manufacture of BitCoins is 32.5 terawatts per hour (TWh). According to the data of the International Agency of Energy, the cipher is more than the consumption of Ireland or Denmark and much more than 13 countries in Latin America consume annually ; for example, Bolivia consumes 7.71 TWh, Ecuador spends 23.02 TWh, and Paraguay expends 11.03 TWh.
Technology expert Samir Estefan, CEO of Softimiza and editor of Techcetera, expains that "you have two ways to get a bitcoin, the first is to change conventional money to get a BitCoin, the second is to create a BitCoin with a mathematical formula through a program that starts working on our computers, this is known as BitCoins mining". Furthermore, Estefan addas that "when the BitCoin cost 20 cents, the formulas were relatively easy, the processing capacity was not very large, and there were very few computers doing it, but when the BitCoin increases its value exponentially increases its value, reaching 17 thousand dollars at the end of 2017, it became popular and thousands of people around the world want to mine BitCoins".
When BitCoins mining becomes popular, the energy consumption required to put into operation thousands of computers, known as 'computer farms', is immense. This is due to the data processors is increasingly demanding more complexity and more time to work; as a consequence, energy consumption increases exponentially.
For Samir Estefan, spending on energy is a problem that deserves attention, "there are places on the planet where energy production is cheap and where, in addition, the impact on the environment is less in proportion to other places, it depends on what source of power generation is being used, hydroelectric, thermoelectric, solar, wind, etc., so the cost-benefit of obtaining a BitCoin can fluctuate, but nevertheless, it is still very profitable".
Mining is extended and energy consumption increases immediately. At that time, the cost-benefit must be evaluated in addition to the environmental impacts that the search for money implies.
"It is no longer profitable to do it in the summer of California, because the energy is supremely expensive, so we started to see is that those who are dedicated to the BitCoins mining business, take the computer farms to places in the planet where energy is cheaper, for example in China we see companies that consume 35 to 40 thousand dollars per month, which is an exorbitant issue", explains Estefan.
The situation is delicate if we think that the BitCoin in a single year has increased its quotation by 2,200% to around US $ 17,000. If the trend continues, in a few months it could be equivalent to US $ 50,000; therefore, the incentive for mining would be much greater. By 2020 the planet would require twice the energy that is consumed today, just to satisfy BitCoins mining.
The above implies not only the environmental impacts associated with the excessive demand for energy, but also the phenomenon of "programmed obsolescence" requires attention. It refers to the final disposal of all the electrical and electronic waste generated by man in his search for improvement technological.
Estefan warns that many people around the world could think: "If every BitCoin means US $ 50,000 or more, no matter how much it costs to renew my computer farm, I discard the old ones and buy new and more powerful ones that involve the possibility of generating more utilities".
However, there is also the hypothesis of decrease in the consumption of energy and resources to undermine the BitCoins, because "they are obtained through deciphering a mathematical formula and as they become more complex each day, it is more and more difficult to 'mine' them, which results in a potential decrease in profits, which encourages the stabilization of mining efforts", points out the technology expert.
At present, the price of currency prevents it from being used for the payment of low-cost goods, but for multinational or interstate transactions the currency is frequently used.
Nevertheless, Samir Estefan considers that "this is a currency that is being acquired under a speculative model, not as an asset that can be used to pay for any basic need" and following that idea, the increase in energy demand for farms of computers can be very dangerous because of the environmental impacts they generate, moreover, when the ambition of man is demonstrated by getting more than necessary every day.
LatinAmerican Post | Alberto Castaño Camacho
Copy edited by Marcela Peñaloza