A few days ago, the CEO of Intel, Patrick Gelsinger, stated in an interview with Bloomberg that “Bitcoin is a climate crisis”.
Bitcoin’s power consumption problem according to Intel
He said that a single registration on Bitcoin’s blockchain consumes enough energy to power a house for almost a day and that this would be a climate crisis.
But then, by no means coincidentally, during the same interview, he promoted the company’s new mining chip saying it will help solve this climate problem.
Hence, this is pure propaganda, also because Gelsinger probably ignores the fact that the energy consumption of Bitcoin mining does not depend on how many transactions are made, what machines are used for mining, or how the Bitcoin protocol is designed.
Consumption depends on the price of BTC, and the reward that miners receive which halves every 4 years or so.
In fact, it is not, and cannot be, the Bitcoin protocol that decides how much energy mining consumes, rather this is always and only an arbitrary decision of the miners.
Mining is a competition where the winner is the one who processes the most hashes, i.e. who uses the most computing power and consumes the most energy. Miners are therefore in fact stimulated to consume as much as possible as long as their costs do not exceed the revenues from their mining work.
Why Bitcoin is not causing a climate crisis
Thus it is most likely false to claim that newer, more efficient chips will reduce the consumption of Bitcoin mining because they will only increase the computing power and difficulty.
It is also untrue to claim that a single Bitcoin transaction consumes as much energy as an entire house consumes in a day because this calculation can only apply to transactions recorded on the Bitcoin blockchain. As an example, the now huge number of transactions on the Lightning Network consume very little, almost nothing.
Finally, it is also false to claim that Bitcoin is causing a climate crisis, as according to recent estimates it is responsible for only 0.08% of the CO2 released into the atmosphere each year by human activity. In other words, if people were to suddenly stop mining Bitcoin across the planet, the environmental impact of this decision would be virtually non-existent, and totally irrelevant.