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China's Crackdown on Crypto Mining Is a Necessity

December 16, 2019 16:03 PM UTC
- Updated September 02, 2020 11:40 AM UTC

It’s wreaking havoc on the environment.

Transcript
[MUSIC PLAYING] Welcome to "Fortune Tech Debate," where we debate the issues of the day in two minutes. Today we're discussing China's proposal to ban cryptocurrency mining. Lisa Marie, is this a good or bad thing? It's definitely a good thing for the environment. The amount of CO2 emissions that Bitcoin mining creates in China alone is insane. It's up to 15 tons a year. We really need to start doing something about this. That's a ton of greenhouse gases. And sure, this planet faces serious climate change risk. But for Bitcoin and for cryptocurrency in particular, this could spell some trouble for these new-fangled technologies. Since 2013 or 2014, China has come to dominate the Bitcoin mining market. There is cheap and plentiful electricity over there. There's cheap coal and hydro power. And people have used this to support the mining rigs that secure the blockchain that allows everybody to transact with all these new digital currencies. And if you suddenly remove this entire market, it is going to really radically disrupt what's going on right now. It's going to cause a lot of mayhem. Well, it's important to keep in mind, though, that China has already been cracking down on crypto, between initial coin offerings and things like that. So it's kind of expected. Also, we're looking at the market right now. Sure, if China is now eliminated from that, right now, that will be a big problem. But people are already moving to Canada, for example. And so they're probably going to adapt much better than we're giving them credit for. I mean, is it a good thing for Bitcoin? No, but I think it will still survive. Cryptocurrency is definitely a global phenomenon. But let's look at China. China has a history of clamping down on technologies that could potentially enable freedoms for their people. It rolled out the great firewall, which has created rampant censorship across the web. And now they're trying to do the same thing basically with Bitcoin. They're getting rid of all these public blockchains, these permissionless blockchains that anybody can join and innovate in and use to transact. And instead, they're going to replace it with some state-backed, state-owned, state-controlled version of that. And that's going to be problematic for people's freedoms. Yeah, I see that point. But I think the motivations here are different. They labeled it a hazardous and wasteful activity. It's just bad for the environment. Well, that's all we've got time for. Come to fortune.com for more Tech Debate. [MUSIC PLAYING]