"This is an awful idea, but I’m writing about bloody Bitcoin again. I recently
published a long thread about it, in which I tried to debunk the claim that the
process of generating new bits of this digital currency is environmentally
beneficial (it is not).
The responses to my thread were exhausting. Some used tortured logic to plead
that Bitcoin is beneficial for the environment. Others informed me that climate
science is a scam.
Some Bitcoin people told me that climate advocates have a knee-jerk, alienating
attitude, and others told me to have fun staying poor.
There’s plenty of work so far that’s been done on why Bitcoin is so
environmentally damaging. But this experience made me think about a related
question: Why is it so damaging? Is it purely technical, or is there more to
I think the story of Bitcoin isn’t a sideshow to climate; it’s actually a very
significant and central force that will play a major role in dragging down the
accelerating pace of positive change.
This is because it has an energy consumption problem, it has a fossil fuel
industry problem, and it has a deep cultural / ideological problem.
All three, in symbiotic concert, position Bitcoin to stamp out the hard-fought
wins of the past two decades, in climate. Years of blood, sweat and tears – in
activism, in technological development, in policy and regulation – extinguished
by a bunch of bros with laser-eye profile pictures. I’m worried, and I want to
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics