BTC-Bashing: Apples to Apples
Elon Explorations, Part I
Here at MINER, we’re all about sustainable growth, upholding and insisting on earth-friendly and humane mining practices.
It’s not just The Talk (which can often be greenwashing); we actually walk the green path too.
The Miner Pledge
A quick scan of our Miner Pledge demonstrates the seriousness of our work and intention to “clean up the dirtiest business in the world” (or at least one of them…)
Bitcoin’s Famed Energy Consumption
In every bull run of the crypto market cycle (all markets have cycles), the issue is invariably raised regarding Bitcoin’s purported energy consumption.
You Gotta Compare Apples to Apples
We’re not claiming Bitcoin’s energy consumption is not significant, but all things must be seen in perspective.
You gotta compare apples to apples.
All too quickly the masses have damned the energy rating of Bitcoin, as if it’s an isolated eco-criminal in the company of other greener, holier-than-thou innocents.
Beware! Muskian Mishaps Afoot
Mr. Musk has some courage claiming that Bitcoin “…come[s] at a great cost to the environment”, yet the deep-sea and other forms of mining rare earth metals and minerals like lithium and cobalt needed for electric vehicle battery construction (like Tesla’s) are themselves coming from infamously ecologically destructive and, at times, inhumane mining practices.
“Word that Tesla wants to build 1,000 cars a week in China, the world’s largest EV market, is fueling the aspirations of companies like DeepGreen Metals and Ocean Minerals LLC, which plan to extract huge quantities of cobalt from the ocean floor.”
“Cobalt is one of the major minerals extracted through deep-sea mining and is one of the most expensive and critical metals for lithium-ion batteries.”
“The main hit to the environment in regards to Tesla EV production is in the materials needed for the batteries. There have been deep contradictions between Tesla’s stated objectives to source raw materials from suppliers who ensure environmentally friendly and ethical processes and reports of a questionable supply chain. Over the years, there have been accusations of poor treatment of the Indigenous population surrounding a lithium mine in Argentina, a dirty source of graphite from China and cobalt mined under harsh conditions.”
No Guarantees of How These Various Providers Source Electricity
Then there’s the power needed to charge these “fossil-fuel-friendly” cars. Though in theory Tesla electric vehicle (EV) charging stations use renewable energy like solar panels (themselves heavy in materials mined from the Earth), there’s absolutely no guarantee from country to country how these various providers source their electricity.
Much electricity for recharging trending Teslas appears to come from coal mining, the very fossil fuel Musk claims is so environmentally dangerous in the mining of Bitcoin.
“One of the prevalent arguments regarding EVs is the fact that they charge using electrical power. That power is most often sourced from the local power grid, which can be composed of a variety of sources including the very fossil fuels electric cars aim to eliminate.
“It’s important to note the combination of energy sources varies widely across the country [USA]. For example, Iowa relies on wind for around 40% of its energy production while West Virginia sources nearly 100% of its energy from coal. Therefore, even an electric vehicle can be petroleum-consumptive in areas with a heavy reliance on fossil fuels.”
What About (Planet) Plan B – Colonising Mars?
How ecological is it for Elon Musk’s SpaceX to send rockets up into space with a view to inhabiting and creating a “self-sustaining city” out there on Mars? (And why the urgency? Because our current planet is being destroyed by our energy-wasteful behaviour?)
Without deep-diving too far, sending rockets into space requires:
- Mining for materials to build the vehicles and launchers including rocket boosters and main fuel tanks (more sea and land destruction)
- Rocket fuel – the latest vehicle being sent into space is the Falcon Heavy. It’s ostensibly three rockets connected to create one enormous spacecraft:
“However, the mass of most rockets are more than 95% fuel. Building bigger rockets with bigger payloads means more fuel is used for each launch. The current fuel for Falcon Heavy is RP-1 (a refined kerosene) and liquid oxygen, which creates a lot of carbon dioxide when burnt.
“The amount of kerosene in three Falcon 9 rockets is roughly 440 tonnes and RP-1 has a 34 percent carbon content… but if SpaceX’s plan for a rocket launch every two weeks comes to fruition, this amount of carbon (approximately 4,000 tonnes per year) will rapidly become a bigger problem.”
Space Junk and Pollution of a Whole New Planet
Space debris is currently estimated to comprise of approximately 150M objects orbiting our planet, which has accumulated over 60 years of cosmos-exploration. This is set to repeat itself now on and around Mars, as the Tesla vehicle heading to Mars (a Tesla Roadster) will likely be left floating in the planet’s orbit.
“Today, we find in space roughly 5,000 objects with sizes larger than 1 metre (3.25 feet), roughly 20,000 objects with sizes over 10 centimetres… and 750,000 ‘flying bullets’ of around one centimetre (half an inch)… For objects larger than one millimetre (0.04 inch), 150 million is our model estimate for that.”
The Alternative to Bitcoin Is the Money We Have Now. What’s the Cost of That?
We’d possibly need a whole book to explain in full how much our current money system costs, also in terms of human suffering and ecology. That’s more than what we’re looking to convey here.
Specifically in response to the ecological Bitcoin mining question that’s reared its head again, we decided to dip into the following:
76% Of Bitcoin Mining Energy Is Renewable
Partly this is due to the cost of mining to the Bitcoin miners themselves. With financial incentives being “halved” every 4 years or so, miners are driven to use renewable energy sources to afford Bitcoin mining costs, and therefore benefit from it.
There’s a mix of hydro and carbon energies being used by miners, which, while there’s still significant electricity being used to mine Bitcoin, its carbon emissions are, in fact, greatly reduced compared to other sectors.
“Although there are no clear estimates about the energy mix used in bitcoin mining, one report indicated that 73% of bitcoin’s energy consumption was carbon neutral, thanks to its significant dependence on hydro power in key mining hubs including Southwest China and Scandinavia.”
30% Of All Energy Generated Globally Is Wasted
This is because power plants are built to cope with peak energy demand, not average demand. The Bitcoin network is incentivised to consume that energy, which is otherwise wasted.
In the case of the USA, it is the most energy wasteful nation on the planet with a staggering 58% of energy produced being lost:
“We have surpassed every nation, including China, in the category of energy waste. Yes, our country wastes the most energy in the world. The US has an energy efficiency of 42 percent, which means 58 percent of all the energy we produce is wasted!“
It’s Easy to Point the Finger at Bitcoin
It’s easy to point the proverbial finger at Bitcoin because it’s easy to measure its energy consumption. Energy consumption in our existing systems, however, is incredibly difficult to pin down, as much of it depends on politically-loaded assumptions.
We Need to Be Asking Different Questions…
Rather than take our information from the back of a cereal packet, or a cosmic Tweet, we need to be asking different questions…
- How much energy is used securing all physical banking locations and money transports around the world?
“On the other side of the discussion, Cathie Wood of ARK Investment Management says the bitcoin ecosystem consumes less than 10% of the energy compared to the energy consumption of the traditional banking system.”
- How much energy has been spent defending the oil market from trading in other currencies, or from undesirable changes in government?
A lot of the value of the US dollar comes from oil in the Middle East, which is sold exclusively in USD, requiring all countries to hold US$ reserves, also known as the petrodollar.
Gulf Wars: US relationships with Iran are, in no small part, related to oil. Iran has tried repeatedly to sell its oil in currencies other than the US dollar. Every time that happens, the US threatens war, shoots down planes, etc., with its very strong policy of interventionism.
Most of us realise that it’s more to do with oil, protecting the US dollar, and loss of control over the oil market, than it is with protecting human rights or whatever the current media narrative might suggest.
- How to account for human and ecological costs of banks funding wars?
Indeed, banks are not backing that many sustainability projects. Central banks work with the banking system and governments in 3 significant ways:
- Lending and bail-outs of big firms
- Inflation of money supply
- Financing of government operations (read: war) via inflation – a form of less-visible taxation
“It is no coincidence that the century of total war coincided with the century of central banking.”
~ Ron Paul, American Author, Physician, and Retired Politician
- How do you begin to calculate the impact of the US dollar on the environment?
Our current economic system relies a lot on oil, specifically the Middle East’s role in propping up the petrodollars via OPEC (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries) by pricing oil in US dollars. At least some of the damage of the wars in the Middle East, in terms of human destruction of life, lifestyles, and environmental destruction, is attributable to the US forcefully propping up that currency.
The world relies on the U.S. dollar and U.S. treasuries, giving America unparalleled and outsized economic dominance. Nearly 90% of international currency transactions are in dollars, 60% of foreign exchange reserves are held in dollars and almost 40% of the world’s debt is issued in dollars, even though the U.S. only accounts for around 20% of global GDP. This special status that the dollar enjoys was born in the 1970s through a military pact between America and Saudi Arabia, leading the world to price oil in dollars and stockpile U.S. debt. As we emerge from the 2020 pandemic and financial crisis, American elites continue to enjoy the exorbitant privilege of issuing the ultimate monetary good and numéraire for energy and finance.
- What about the ecological effects of classic gold mining? How much waste does gold create?
See our blog to understand how fundamentally damaging traditional gold mining is to the Earth: Five Things You Need to Know to Help Clean Up the Dirtiest Business on the Planet
Let’s Get Some Perspective
Let’s get some perspective on the realities of these sectors’ impact: how much less damaging to the planet Bitcoin mining is to gold mining, and how much more, exponentially, the banking system and governments consume in fossil fuel energy of the planet.
Waxing Superior – Truly Questionable
So any tweets or talk of Bitcoin and fossil fuel consumption, as well as carbon emissions, or any reference to pollution is truly questionable coming from the fingertips or mouth of a CEO who clearly favours both sides of the (Bit)coin.
From deep-sea mining, to selling cars to coal-ravenous countries, to space pollution and planetary colonisation, it really is difficult to take Elon seriously when he starts waxing superior about the ecological effects of Bitcoin mining.
Bitcoin Issue Drifts Off to Space Again
After a few weeks, the argument dies down again. Most people end up feeling angrier. Unfortunately, a large section of the yet-uneducated market makes buying decisions based on inexpert or incomplete claims, including those self-righteous but ostensibly unknowing green activists who are effectively none the wiser.
And so the energy consumption issue erodes, only to resurface again in some years’ time…
(Another market-wide case of FUD* to distract and disguise, while other agendas are afoot.)
* FUD: Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt
The Positives: What Can We Learn From Elon Musk’s Latest Tweet and Its Impact on Bitcoin’s Price?
- Not all ‘influencers’ are to be believed on tweet-value
- At this late stage in the bull market cycle, other currencies will likely start to outperform Bitcoin, and market money may well be moving from Bitcoin into Altcoins (alternative coins)
- This bull season started with the most conservative (‘institutional’) money flowing into Bitcoin; now it’s gradually moving into other solid projects like Ethereum. It seems almost any project can double or triple in a single day because some guy sent a 140-character tweet (think DOGE coin)…
- As the Altcoin season continues to heat up, people get more reckless with their money (as Shibu and other dog-themed Altcoins can attest to), volatility climbs, and it takes less and less to wobble the market. Why? Because people increasingly ignore trading fundamentals.
- As people flock into the market and mortgage their houses to “YOLO**-in” on the latest ICO, some people will make hundreds of millions of dollars over the next few months. And then hundreds of millions will be lost in a matter of hours and days, when the bull market ends.
*YOLO: You Only Live Once
- Some say “You should buy straw hats in the winter”; perhaps that’s what Elon’s doing… putting Bitcoin on sale, for himself and his friends.
Be Careful Out There!
Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies are here to stay. However, it does take a lot of time and effort to really understand the fundamentals of any token or coin.
Anyone concerned about energy consumption, cryptocurrencies and tokens, needs to see the issue from every angle of the prism, not a one-dimensional Tweeted version.
It’s Hard to Know the Environmental Impact of the Tokens You’re Holding
Even in crypto, it can be hard to really know the environmental impact of the tokens you’re holding. If we don’t fully consider the environmental implications of our investments, however, and if we don’t ensure that environmental discernment is part of our decision-making when balancing our portfolio decisions, there won’t be a planet left on which to enjoy our fat stack of profits, anyway.
If your coins do shoot up 3X, 5X, or 100X in a day, remember that most of this market WILL collapse back down. So remember to take profits strategically.
That’s Where MINER Comes In
Protect the value of your gains, and protect the planet while we keep your gold safe in the ground until you need it.
We at MINER fully support your research. We welcome your questions. We want to involve other organisations in signing The Miner Pledge with us (including Tesla and SpaceX), to bring a safer, saner, more stable and ultimately healthier planet for all, while allowing MINER token holders to protect their wealth during this wild ecological and social ride.
Bringing the old and the new financial hedges together (gold and crypto), MINER token provides ultimate stability and is the only utility token that delivers real, physical gold by the ounce:
- real value in the form of a secure, clean, green crypto asset
- a port in the storm of uncertain global financial markets
- greater environmental and social support with both a committed ethos and responsible mining values underpinning the very operation of The Miner Network
The service of mining ethically responsible “green” gold, measured in minutes, is the best option for you, however much wealth you’re looking to protect, for yourself and for the planet.
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~ Anouk Pinchetti & Abheeti Kathryn Pass