Greenpeace USA – an environmental advocacy group – cites Bitcoin for having what it calls an “outdated and efficient” code system.
In a tweet on Thursday, the organization doubled down on claims that Bitcoin’s proof-of-work mechanism is contributing to the climate crisis. Instead, he suggested replacing the code with a less energy-intensive mechanism such as proof-of-stake.
Campaign against mining
The defense team statements was in response to Thursday’s successful Ethereum merger – an event that moved the protocol from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake.
“Ethereum just proved that cryptocurrencies don’t have to come at the expense of a sustainable planet,” the nonprofit said. Meanwhile, he criticized Bitcoin for continuing to consume more electricity than “entire countries.”
Bitcoin’s power consumption can fluctuate as market conditions change, but has generally increased over time as the Bitcoin mining industry expands. According to Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index finger, The theoretical upper limit consumption is about 159.63 TW/h at this time. In comparison, the entire country of Norway consumes about 124 TW/h, per data from Forbes last year.
Its energy footprint results in proof of work – a mechanism for achieving consensus and security for the blockchain by consuming energy. Specifically, users (miners) consume energy in a race to build the next block of Bitcoin, where the winners are rewarded with BTC. Of course, as the price of Bitcoin increases over time, they are incentivized to burn more energy to earn additional rewards.
As Greenpeace explained, this process incentivizes miners to bring old coal and natural gas plants “back to life,” thus fueling the climate crisis.
“It doesn’t have to be this way,” argued the nonprofit. “Ethereum – one of Bitcoin’s leading competitors – just changed its code system to reduce energy consumption by 99.95%.
Greenpeace last targeted Bitcoin in March, after Ripple co-founder Chris Larsen is funded a $5 million campaign to see Bitcoin transition to proof of stake. Like last time, Greenpeace also called on tech billionaires connected to Bitcoin – including Jack Dorsey and Elon Musk – to raise awareness about its energy footprint.
Arguments for proof of work
However, Bitcoiners are not backing down. Dorsey, for one, made clear his distaste for proof of stake protocols after division a blog post extolling the superiority of proof of work on Wednesday.
Dorsey also co-signed a proof-of-work letter to the Environmental Protection Agency in May, which criticized proof of participation for prone to centralization.
MicroStrategy Executive Chairman Michael Saylor has also stopped pulling punches in defense of Bitcoin mining.
“[Bitcoin’s carbon emissions] would hardly be noticed if it weren’t for the competing guerilla marketing activities of other crypto advocates and lobbyists seeking to focus negative attention on proof-of-work mining,” he said in a letter on Wednesday.
There is also a question of how much global emissions would fall if the transition actually happened. Bitcoin is estimated to account for about 0.08% of global emissions right now, which would likely be the limit of its emissions reduction.
Additionally, Merge indicated that not all miners will go offline after such an upgrade. Rather, many seem to have migrated on other proof-of-work chains such as Ethereum Classic.
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