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Digging into Bitcoin’s energy problem

June 23, 2021, 4:15 PM UTC

Bitcoin may not require pickaxes or other mining tools of the trade to dig it up, but that doesn’t mean cryptocurrency is energy friendly. In fact, the digital currency is quite the energy hog.

In China, where most Bitcoin mining used to take place, its “carbon footprint … actually exceeds the total amount of CO2 saved from deploying electric vehicles around the world,” says Alex de Vries, founder of Digiconomist. “We’re talking about 60 million metric tons of carbon dioxide that this network is responsible for every year.”

De Vries joins Michal Lev-Ram and Brian O’Keefe, the hosts of Fortune Brainstorm, to discuss cryptocurrency’s energy issues. Each episode of the podcast explores how technology is reshaping our world.

Also on the show is Frederik Gregaard, CEO of the Cardano Foundation, discussing how cryptocurrencies are moving away from the energy-heavy proof of work toward a better system, proof of stake.

“What we’ve done in proof of stake is we said, [it’s] not about actually having the most computing power. But it’s actually about having trust. It’s about randomizing it. So we are still checking the data in the same way, but we are not using as much electricity.”

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