Are blockchains bad for the environment?

Are blockchains bad for the environment?

Blockchain
May 29, 2022 by Martin Sukhor
97
The emergence of blockchain technology is often hotly debated because blockchain is bad for the environment. Like Elon Musk who in March 2021 decided to accept Bitcoin for payment for his products. But two months later, he reverse the decision on the grounds that a good product must be environmentally friendly. Blockchain is not environmentally
blockchain bad for environment

The emergence of blockchain technology is often hotly debated because blockchain is bad for the environment.

Like Elon Musk who in March 2021 decided to accept Bitcoin for payment for his products. But two months later, he reverse the decision on the grounds that a good product must be environmentally friendly.

Blockchain is not environmentally friendly, in contrast to Tesla’s products, which replace fuel oil with batteries to run vehicles consider a more friendly environment.

That’s the reason Musk canceled accepting Bitcoin. However, the possibility of Musk re-accepting Bitcoin is still possible if blockchain development is more environmentally friendly.

Blockchain technology

Blockchain technology definition according to The European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) is a ledger, in which peer-to-peer transactions are recorded on the network.

The data is connected in a data block structure. Its decentralized nature does not require a trusted centralized authority, however, it uses cryptography for transaction integrity.

This means that in blockchain technology there is no intermediary to validate a transaction, and transactions are protected by encryption with cryptography.

In contrast to traditional banks which are intermediaries and regulate all banking transactions. The blockchain ledger acts as a substitute for the role of the bank in a financial transaction.

A blockchain is a place for transaction data in a decentralized network, where users are responsible for all transactions. Both storage, update, and verify transactions.

Even though the blockchain ledger is encrypted, people keep track of the transactions that are visible.

Blockchain here places and synchronizes data between interconnected blocks. Each block represents a transaction and records and is linked to the previous block. That’s why it’s called a blockchain.

Advantages of using blockchain technology

Some of the advantages of blockchain technology, when compared to traditional systems, are, that the data in the blockchain is immutable, provides better transparency, enhanced security, increases speed, and lowers costs.

Enhanced security

Blockchain can increase security, by recording end-to-end transactions with encryption that allows for preventing unauthorized activities. The information distributed in the network prevents hackers who have to be more complex to be able to see the data.

Transparency

Blockchain uses a distributed ledger and records the same information in different locations. All participants in the network. Participants in the network get permission to see the same information so that it is more transparent.

Enhanced transaction speed

Transactions that occur in the blockchain network are faster when compared to transactions that occur in traditional banks which involve more third parties in the transaction process. So it’s a lower cost.

Blockchain technology can be applied not only in the financial industry but also in various other industries, for example, pharmaceuticals, government, and food supply.

Disadvantages of blockchain

Although blockchain offers advantages in terms of transparency as well as transaction fees and speed. However, this technology is still quite new and has its drawbacks.

Some argue that blockchain is not really secure, requires a lot of energy, and is not a very large distributed computing system. Mining isn’t really network-safe, and it’s neither perpetual nor immutable.

Another issue is scalability because blockchain is indestructible. Another drawback is that blockchain has high complexity and is considered less efficient.

How does Bitcoin contribute to climate change?

Recently, the issue of climate change has become an important topic internationally. In blockchain technology, one of the causes of its contribution to climate change is the carbon footprint left by Bitcoin mining.

In the beginning, the price of Bitcoin was only $1 in a few years turning to a price level of $40,000 and even to a price level of $65,000 causing many people to try to invest in blockchain. Among them is to build a Bitcoin mining machine which requires a large amount of electrical energy to run the machine all day long.

Bitcoin’s work system requires miners to validate transactions which are better known as using proof of work consensus requires miners to use computers with super speed to compete with other miners.

Because miners compete with each other using supercomputers and require large amounts of electricity, their contribution to climate change is a high carbon footprint because most sources of electrical energy use coal.

This issue becomes important for miners, so they must try to develop renewable sources of electricity.

Are blockchains immutable?

Blockchain evangelists say that the technology is immutable, which defines a permanent ledger, and recorded transactions cannot be changed.

Technically, no one can change the database in the Blockchain. No one can manipulate the data already on the blockchain.

Each block has a unique hash value to identify one block. And each block is linked to the previous block, say the fourth block takes a reference to the third block. The third block takes a reference to the second, and so on. WIth reference is created by the hash value.

Thus, technically the block that has been formed is indelible and is connected to the next block which will record new transactions.

The reason blockchain is immutable is the combination of validation in the blockchain hashing process and cryptography that makes it immutable.

Can blockchain be destroyed?

In theory, blockchain is indestructible, and resistant to hackers due to its decentralized nature where the data stored in the blockchain is spread across all nodes in the network. So it is impossible for hackers to hack the blockchain, and that is a very difficult job.

But it is likely to happen if the hacker manages to control at least 51%. So far there has been no news of a blockchain hack that is able to control at least 51% of nodes in the entire Bitcoin network in the world.

So it is very difficult to make the blockchain shut down, even the government cannot stop the blockchain. It’s just that they have contributed to limiting the use of blockchain by banning it on the basis of government policy.

But why is there a cryptocurrency hack that wipes out millions of dollars?

In theory, it has more to do with not putting cryptocurrency in a safe place. For example, to access cryptocurrency using a hot wallet, where the private key in this hot wallet is not safe because it is online connected to the internet. Which allows a layer of security to be stolen by retrieving the private key to access cryptocurrency data on the public blockchain.

The blockchain itself uses encryption for security so that without permission it cannot read the stored data even though it can download it.

But maybe in the future, this blockchain technology can be destroyed by the presence of new, more powerful technologies. At this time, for example, the development of the Quantum computer is also being massively hot news, which allows at some stage to open the encryption in blockchain technology.

Are blockchains bad for the environment?

Environmental issues related to blockchain, this is very close to the case with Bitcoin mining which is accused of being the cause of the bad impact on the environment.

The Proof of Work consensus carried by Bitcoin causes Bitcoin mining to require a large amount of electrical energy, even exceeding the electricity demand in one country.

In 2022, refers to Cambridge university, the largest mining activity occurred in the United States controlling 42.7% of mining activities globally, shifting China’s position from the previous year.

Annually, bitcoin mining activities are accused of creating more than 37 kilotons of electronic waste as a byproduct of bitcoin mining activities. According to Investopedia, electricity power in bitcoin mining activity is 26.73 Terawatt-hours of electricity per year and 167.72 Terawatt-hours of electricity.

Why is blockchain accused of being bad for the environment? The underlying reason is the carbon footprint left in fossil energy sources in fuels for power generation.

Although it is very complicated to calculate the carbon footprint of Bitcoin mining activities. According to Diginomist, Bitcoin mining is responsible for 114 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, as per the data released in May 2022.

Blockchain environmental impact

The environmental impact of blockchain on the environment is mainly from mining Bitcoin. Which is the first and top cryptocurrency.

According to Diginomist, electronic waste due to outdated ASIC machines is a bad thing for the environment. Where on average a year can cause electronic waste of up to 35 thousand tons.

What is the future blockchain?

The main problem in blockchain technology is the e-waste and carbon footprint. It is mainly taken up by the Bitcoin blockchain.

At this time the Proof of Stake consensus is considered more energy efficient and does not leave a lot of electronic waste.

If both Bitcoin and Ethereum could switch to using the Proof of Stake consensus concept. It might avoid accusations of adverse effects on the environment.

Or if you still maintain proof of work, then look for alternative sources of electricity that are environmentally friendly that don’t leave a carbon footprint.

Can blockchain work without the internet?

Blockchain is spread across all nodes in the network which in validating transactions requires an internet connection. So it is impossible for blockchain to run without the internet.

But is it possible to create a blockchain without the internet? That’s only possible for a private network without using the internet, maybe using Bluetooth technology or a privately connected LAN. However, for a large-scale and global network, it is very impossible that blockchain can work without the internet.

Today, NFT, which is also one of the innovative products in blockchain technology, is also making hot news. The process of minting NFT also requires the internet, so blockchain technology cannot be separated from the internet. Like your smartphone, to enable sending messages via WhatsApp or other messaging applications, you must use the internet.

Does blockchain use a lot of energy?

According to the Cambridge Bitcoin electricity consumption index, annually estimated Bitcoin mining electricity consumption is up to 117.50 TWh. With the lowest at 51.43 TWh and the highest at 222.19 TWh.

Are blockchains bad for the environment?

Although currently blockchain still consumes a large amount of electrical energy. Blockchain development has arrived at a solution for energy consumption and scalability. With the emergence of a new blockchain with a Proof of Stake. This type of consensus comes to be a Bitcoin blockchain solution that requires large energy.

Pros and cons of blockchain technology

Pros

  • Decentralized no middleman.
  • Offer low-cost transactions.
  • Faster transaction speed.
  • Improved security difficult to hack.
  • Reduces fraud.
  • Better in transparency.
  • Prevent double-spending.

Cons

  • Scalability issue.
  • Security breaches.
  • Energy consumption is high.
  • Requires confirmation from the network which is sometimes time-consuming.

Conclusion

Blockchain technology today may be accused of being bad for the environment. But the growth of blockchain has not stopped there.

The emergence of new blockchains that offer solutions from their predecessors.  Provides an opportunity for blockchain technology to continue to grow even though the government may try to stop its progress.

Because blockchain may be considered financially destabilizing and does not represent a safe currency.

In addition, the issue of climate change is currently a hot topic in the world. In its efforts to save the earth due to the use of energy that destroys the environment.

Note: This article is only for information and can’t be considered investment advice or solicitation investment. Forex, crypto, and CFD are risky, each investor has their own responsibility for their investment.

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