US Senators misleading climate debate with Bitcoin mining

US Senators misleading climate debate with Bitcoin mining

☀️ As heatwaves are hitting Europe and the US, politicians feel the urge to blame them on something, preferably without a strong lobby or connection to their previous activity. Bitcoin, of course, is a perfect excuse, even if it comes with some serious sacrifices of facts and logic.

On July 15th, a group of US Senators lead by Elizabeth Warren, one of the most fervent crypto opponents who famously stated that Bitcoin is managed by a group of “shadowy super-coders”, sent a letter to the Congress denouncing Bitcoin as anti-environmental.

Bitcoin energy use

While citing Bitcoin mining’s growing capacities and theoretical concerns for the security of energy grids, notably deregulated ones like in Texas, the letter misses on what’s actually happening.

Several days prior to the letter, Bitcoin miners in Texas have started fulfilling their promise to responsibly follow the energy demand. Last week over 95% of Texan crypto miners have curtailed their electricity consumption, pushing over 1’000 megawatts back into the grid for several ten-hour periods, keeping the grid stable.

A number of Texan politicians, including the Governor, have claimed that such cooperation was a way to strengthen the grid: in off-peak periods Bitcoin miners create demand, keeping power producers in business, and in high demand periods they stop or reduce their operations, leaving the energy to those who cannot forgo it. Last week Texas hit an all-time high energy demand, and the grid did not fail, suggesting that this system might be working.

? Bitcoin carbon emissions

The letter does mention mining companies that have been using flared gas (which actually prevents more GHG emissions from happening) and those that have converted coal-burning plants into nearly carbon-free operations, and that crypto mining is considered to be driving green energy investments.

However, following some very twisted train of thought, the Senators concluded that despite all this, “Bitcoin miners are using huge quantities of electricity that could be used for other priority end uses that contribute to our electrification and climate goals”.

This effectively changes the subject from “Is Bitcoin bad for the environment?” to “Do we need Bitcoin?” – and this definitely should not be up to the Senators. This turn would suggest that the state is somehow positioned to decide which industry gets electricity, and which does not, ignoring what the economic actors and citizens actually wish to do.

We live in the era of short attention span, and those who get the most headlines determine what the public thinks. Mainstream media is more than happy to oblige and blame the burning planet on Bitcoin, forgetting about the real reasons that have been driving climate change all these years.

This is not how we change things, and we need to keep the Bitcoin and ecology debate precise not only for the sake of Bitcoin, but for the sake of the planet as well ?