In a recent debate hosted by Cointelegraph, two experts squared off in a crypto duel to see who could present the strongest argument for and against bitcoin’s climate impact. Bitcoin mining operations, which are necessary to confirm transactions on the blockchain, are notoriously energy-intensive. In fact, bitcoin mining consumes more energy than 159 countries, according to an estimate by Digiconomist. With the ongoing crypto winter of 2018, some people are calling for more environmentally conscious ways to confirm transactions on the blockchain. One proposed solution is the Lightning Network, also known as “Layer 2,” which would move transactions off the blockchain and leave only the results. Proponents say this would reduce bitcoin’s carbon footprint, while critics say it would create

The Bitcoin and cryptocurrency community continues to debate the impact of Bitcoin mining on global warming, with a new discussion taking place this week on the Cointelegraph website. On one side of the argument is John McAfee, the eccentric founder of the McAfee antivirus software, who recently warned that Bitcoin mining was a greater threat to the environment than the use of fossil fuels as transport fuels. On the other side is former NASA engineer turned Bitcoin miner, James Howell, who argues that Bitcoin is actually a greener alternative to traditional banking and financial services.

In Cointelegraph’s latest cryptoduel, Digiconomist founder Alex de Vries and Blockchain for Climate CEO and founder Joseph Pallant discussed the intensity of bitcoin’s impact and possible ways to reduce it.

As De Vries noted, Bitcoin’s energy consumption grows along with the network.  The analyst predicts that bitcoin’s carbon footprint could increase significantly as it becomes more widely adopted.

I fear this will quickly spiral out of control if adoption continues to rise, he said.

As long as bitcoin runs on a proof-of-work system, de Vries says it will be difficult to reduce emissions. De Vries sees no incentive for miners to engage in renewable energy, because this type of energy is not constant.

Miners have no interest in signing up for a system where they can only get electricity for one hour a day, he added.

Therefore, according to the analyst, bitcoin miners will continue to rely on fossil fuels for the foreseeable future.

Pallant disagrees. He believes that cheap renewable energy will play an important role in reducing Bitcoin’s carbon footprint.

We know that solar and wind power are the cheapest in many places, he said.

Pallant also believes that blockchain technology can be used to register bitcoins mined using renewable energy sources, which would boost demand for these green coins among institutional investors.

We can achieve zero emissions with these blockchains by reducing emissions where we can and offsetting the rest, Pallant said.

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