The Guardian Publishes Opinion Piece Claiming Bitcoin is Hurting The Planet, But Here’s the Truth
The Guardian, one of the most respected media outlets of the world, has decided to publish quite a controversial op-ed article today. The controversy?
The article’s writer, Ethan Lou, claims that Bitcoin is killing the planet. Think we’re exaggerating? You can read it here and its title is literally that Bitcoin is killing it.
This man, Ethan Lou, has never published in The Guardian before, so you can see he’s just guest posting there. He presents himself as an early Bitcoin miner and someone who worked in the oil industry before as a way to get some legitimacy in affirming that there are parallels between the two industries and that Bitcoin is going to cause harm to the world.
He believes that Bitcoin will be as big as oil one day and that this will create a great environmental hazard. He compares Bitcoin and oil to explain that both industries use a lot of electric energy and that they keep needing more and more energy.
The former journalist who wrote the article has covered the oil industry in the past and has also invested in Bitcoin. For fairness, you should actually read his arguments against Bitcoin if you want to, but the point is that some of the comparisons are far-fetched because these are two very different industries.
According to the writer, the main problem is basically divided into two questions: there is an arms race to get all Bitcoin before it is mined and mining expends a lot of energy. Both these things are true and, in fact, there is no way to sugarcoat the fact that, yes, Bitcoin is very energy expensive. However, does this mean that it is “killing the planet”?
Is Bitcoin Killing The Planet? No, Don’t Believe In Clickbait Articles
Nope, it is not. Predatory mining may have spent a lot of energy, but most predictions do not show that Bitcoin will spend all the energy in the world or something like that. In fact, it will be just another factor.
There is one clear message here: don’t believe stupid clickbait articles. The truth is never so simple as to whether Bitcoin will kill the world or not. Bitcoin could help to make some damage and it could help to create beautiful things but we, as a society, are the ones killing the environment. It is not a single scapegoat that will pollute everything, it is our whole system of using everything until there’s nothing left.
The truth is far from being beautiful as to whether Bitcoin is awesome and does not spend any energy (it does) or that Bitcoin is the Devil itself. It isn’t. The future is hard to predict and blaming is easy, what is actually hard is to acknowledge that it is our whole wide system and way of life that is slowly depleting the world.
As the prices of renewable energy like solar energy are declining, there are more and more clean ways to mine. With a collective effort, we can actually make a difference but blaming something just because that is a popular opinion is just useless.
OP-Ed Author Update
Ethan Lou reached out to us to so that he could tell his side of the story. To let our readers know why he choose to write the piece. Here is what he had to say:
“The Guardian column never made a value judgment on Bitcoin's environmental footprint at all. The point the column makes is that, like oil, Bitcoin will become a target of the environmental movement in part because of its prominence, regardless of its actual footprint.
“In noting similarities such as market fluctuations and industry structure, the column is clear in not equating the environmental impacts of oil and Bitcoin; rather it points out the similarities in how the two will be perceived by the environmental movement.
“Like everything else we do, Bitcoin has an environmental footprint — I think that is beyond dispute. The column did not express an opinion on whether that footprint is bigger or smaller than that of other activities — or even whether having an environmental footprint is a good or a bad thing.
“Many other sectors do have big environmental footprints, but they do not make for great targets for the environmental movement. If oil fades, Bitcoin makes for an easy next target. All the Guardian column did was analyze the situation, without picking a side.
“The column stated it rather clearly: ‘The two industries are hardly the only environmental offenders, but they make great targets. Oil is currently the biggest one. That is in part because the industry is prominent, represented internationally by organized and high-profile groups. Attacks on it are visible.'”