The Weekly Review

by Chris Bowler

This is an area where I am lacking in familiarity with the subject. While I have read the headlines and watched in amazement as friends have taken the plunge to “investing” in a cryptocurrency, I have not taken the time to get a better grip on why some people are so bullish on this technology (I have several long articles on the subject in Instapaper, so bad on me). But any time I think about it, I can’t get past the environmental impact.

The total network of computers plugged into the bitcoin network consumes as much energy each day as some medium-size countries — which country depends on whose estimates you believe. And the network supporting Ethereum, the second-most valuable virtual currency, gobbles up another country’s worth of electricity each day.

It seems there are people who believe affects of bitcoin (and the like) on the environment are overblown. And there are others who plainly state the technology is worth whatever environmental cost they incur. But I cannot wrap my head around that. My thinking is that the generations of the last 100–150 years have made more than enough decisions already that have placed a low priority on environmental cost — and we need to radically shift our priorities.

Energy consumption was a concern before cryptocurrencies were the rage. Again, I need to take the time to gain a better understanding of how this technology can help in other ways. But as a means to obtaining wealth? No thanks!