Revolutionary technologies are inherently controversial. This was proven true just this week when the CEO of Ripple Labs, Brad Garlinghouse, bashed Bitcoin and Ethereum in a direct tweet, sparking discourse.
The reason? Garlinghouse thinks that the cryptocurrencies’ mining mechanism, which sees miners contribute computational resources to secure the blockchain, is wasteful and a threat to the climate:
“Energy consumption for BTC and ETH mining is a massive waste and there’s no incentive to take responsibility for the carbon footprint. Absolutely mind-blowing that this isn’t high on the agenda for the growing climate crisis.”
Energy consumption for BTC and ETH mining is a massive waste and there’s no incentive to take responsibility for the carbon footprint. Absolutely 🤯 that this isn’t high on the agenda for the growing climate crisis… https://t.co/psR77m78Ua
— Brad Garlinghouse (@bgarlinghouse) March 4, 2020
The Ripple chief made this comment in reference to an article from The Telegraph, which suggested that a single BTC transaction “is the same as 780,650 Visa transactions,” per data from a PWC analyst specializing in the field of blockchain technologies.
While many supported his statement — his tweet garnered nearly 3,000 likes as of the time of writing this and was shared by many who believe that Bitcoin is killing the Earth — members of the industry have started to push back against the critique.
Bitcoiners Spark Discourse With Ripple CEO Garlinghouse
It’s no secret that Bitcoin isn’t the most popular asset; many economists and technologists around the world are highly skeptical of the cryptocurrency for many reasons. One of the oft-cited reasons, as seen above, is that it is “killing the Earth.”
From a pure numbers standpoint, some think that is the case; data from academics suggests that securing the Bitcoin network requires as much energy in a year as the whole of small though developed countries, like Austria.
Though many Bitcoiners don’t think that it’s a waste.
Gabor Gurbacs, the digital asset strategist/director at ETF provider VanEck, recently laid out his case for why Bitcoin’s use of power is warranted. Gurbacs’ three points are as follows:
- Bitcoin’s energy consumption is a “necessary feature,” for the POW consensus mechanism is what makes BTC secure and decentralized.
- Banks and payment firms, which Ripple affiliates with, use “huge amounts of energy.”
- No need to “green-wash things.”
1. Mining energy consumption is a necessary feature (not a bug) for #Bitcoin‘s POW consensus algorithm which makes Bitcoin secure, permissionless and decentralized.
2. Banks and payments firms use huge amounts of energy.
3. Let’s not green-wash things. https://t.co/IBETWyUDoY
— Gabor Gurbacs (@gaborgurbacs) March 4, 2020
Also, legendary Bitcoin proponent and educator Andreas Antonopoulos wrote in 2016 that holiday lights surrounding the trees and homes of millions across the globe use “more energy in a week than [entire] small nations,” before rhetorically asking “who’s wasteful?”
Both sides have valid arguments, so right now, it isn’t clear who’s winning this latest spat on Crypto Twitter.
Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash