Billionaire Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft and one of the most vocal promoters of the climate agenda, has been speaking out about the harm bitcoin is inflicting on the environment.
Gates said during a New York Times interview, “Bitcoin uses more electricity per transaction than any other method known to mankind.” The cryptocurrency is “not a big climate thing,” he added.
Bitcoin mining consumes about 124 terawatt-hours per year — about a half-percent of the world’s total consumption and as much as all of Pakistan, according to the Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index.
Most electricity used to mine bitcoin comes from fossil fuels. If it was generated from environmentally friendly renewable energy sources, Gates told the Times he would change his mind.
“If it’s green electricity and it doesn’t displace other uses, eventually, you know, maybe that’s okay,” Gates said.
Gates heads the world’s largest philanthropic foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. During a chat in February on the Clubhouse app, Gates discussed plans to create a more “eco-friendly” digital financial instrument, Entrepreneur reported. He also promoted his new book, “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster,” in an interview with journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin.
“I haven’t chosen to invest money (in bitcoin),” Gates said on Clubhouse. “I buy malaria vaccines. I buy measles vaccines. I invest in companies that make products.”
Gates said there are “other ways of doing digital currency” that are not secret transactions and his foundation is vested in making those services available to uplift the poorest in India and Africa, Geekwire reported.
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Bitcoin is mined mostly in China, where warehouses of miners use massive computer servers running code 24/7 on special hardware called rigs. The process consumes the same amount of energy per year as some countries, Forbes reported.
China’s subsidized coal-fired power plants produce some of the cheapest energy in the world. Miners compete to solve the same mathematical puzzle. About every 10 minutes, someone solves a puzzle and is rewarded with some bitcoin. Then a new puzzle is generated, and the whole process starts over. The puzzles help to ensure that no one fraudulently edits the global record of all bitcoin transactions.