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Author Topic: The Environmental Cost of Bitcoin - Youtube Video  (Read 1627 times)
cunicula
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November 11, 2012, 12:03:17 PM
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Good presentation on the environmental disaster called proof of work.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHGFWWOylJM

In a Society in which there is no law, and in theory no compulsion, the only arbiter of behaviour is public opinion. But public opinion, because of the tremendous urge to conformity in gregarious animals, is less tolerant than any system of law. When human beings are governed by "thou shalt not", the individual can practise a certain amount of eccentricity: when they are supposedly governed by "love" or "reason", he is under continuous pressure to make him behave and think in exactly the same way as everyone else. - George Orwell
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November 11, 2012, 12:05:14 PM
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Yeah, go back at traditional system, much much much worse for the environment  Roll Eyes
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November 11, 2012, 12:22:09 PM
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Looking forward to the discussions in this thread. I don't have much to contribute for now but I will just say that it is relevant to compare Bitcoin to traditional monetary systems. Comparing it to other cryptocurrencies is another discussion and that is not as relevant. Other cryptocurrencies are insignificant at the moment.

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November 11, 2012, 01:35:29 PM
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environmental impact??

compared to the resources needed to print FIAT then the fuel costs to transport it from the mint to the banks. further transports to the ATMS. thats alot of natural resources

then as people spend it. more resources to to transport FIAT from shops to the banks.

let alone all the costs of resourses for all the bank staff, the leaflets and paper contracts and every other detail related to dealing with fiat. even down to the environmental costs of producing credit/debit cards needs to be included in the fiat environmental impact, to fully compare to bitcoin.

FIAT=1g of resources compared to bitcoin 30-70g? pfft as if

bitcoins environmental impact is sooooooooo much less. that video only talks about the electricity bill of fiat. not the fuel costs for transport or the ink costs paper costs.

flawed presentation but atleast its the first stepping stone to anyone who actually is interested in showing that bitcoin is more environmentally friendly.

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November 11, 2012, 01:52:29 PM
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environmental impact??

compared to the resources needed to print FIAT then the fuel costs to transport it from the mint to the banks. further transports to the ATMS. thats alot of natural resources


If you had actually watched to the video, you would have seen that there is an attempt to account for all types of electricity costs associated with the use of German currency, including transportation, storage, etc.

In a Society in which there is no law, and in theory no compulsion, the only arbiter of behaviour is public opinion. But public opinion, because of the tremendous urge to conformity in gregarious animals, is less tolerant than any system of law. When human beings are governed by "thou shalt not", the individual can practise a certain amount of eccentricity: when they are supposedly governed by "love" or "reason", he is under continuous pressure to make him behave and think in exactly the same way as everyone else. - George Orwell
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November 11, 2012, 02:01:07 PM
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I believe that in a few years, Bitcoin will be the most environmentally friendly option to move money. Here is my reasoning. Please tell me if anything is flawed.

In a perfectly competitive environment, the price of the last marketed product equals its cost of production. I consider Bitcoin mining a competitive industry, so the previous statement does apply to the Bitcoin network.

The cost of production is not only energy consumption, but also the research and development to obtain more efficient mining hardware. I would expect the cost of production of bitcoins to gradually move from energy consumption to jobs and investment in the hardware industry. We may soon be seeing this with the arrival of next generation ASICs.

Finally, once most bitcoins are mined (in around 20 years), and all mining profit comes from transaction fees from highly competitive miners (keeping fees as low as possible, no creation of new bitcoins), moving (bitcoin) money will be cheaper and presumably as environmentally efficient as you can get, more than any other money transacting business. Is my reasoning correct?  

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November 11, 2012, 02:13:11 PM
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I believe that in a few years, Bitcoin will be the most environmentally friendly option to move money. Here is my reasoning. Please tell me if anything is flawed.

In a perfectly competitive environment, the price of the last marketed product equals its cost of production. I consider Bitcoin mining a competitive industry, so the previous statement does apply to the Bitcoin network.

The cost of production is not only energy consumption, but also the research and development to obtain more efficient mining hardware. I would expect the cost of production of bitcoins to gradually move from energy consumption to jobs and investment in the hardware industry. We may soon be seeing this with the arrival of next generation ASICs.

Finally, once most bitcoins are mined (in around 20 years), and all mining profit comes from transaction fees from highly competitive miners (keeping fees as low as possible, no creation of new bitcoins), moving (bitcoin) money will be cheaper and presumably as environmentally efficient as you can get, more than any other money transacting business. Is my reasoning correct?  

short answer yes.

but even today bitcoin is ecologically better then fiat.

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November 11, 2012, 02:34:08 PM
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Has the inventor of the Internet, Al Gore, started his machine again?

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November 11, 2012, 02:52:44 PM
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Environmental Protection: The New Socialism?
Quote
In 1990, the economist Robert Heilbroner expressed genuine surprise at the collapse of socialism. Writing in The New Yorker, he recalled that in the debates over central planning in the 1930s and 1940s, socialism seemed to have won. A half century later he realized that he had been wrong and that “Mises was right.”[1]

Since Heilbroner has leaned toward socialism for most of his career, he deserves credit for admitting that he was so mistaken. Yet by the end of his revealing essay, Heilbroner was suggesting that perhaps socialism wasn’t dead, after all. He proposed “another way of looking at, or for, socialism.” He suggested that we think of socialism “not in terms of the specific improvements we would like it to embody but as the society that must emerge if humanity is to cope with the one transcendent challenge that faces it within a thinkable timespan.” That challenge, says Heilbroner, is “the ecological burden that economic growth is placing on the environment.”

Heilbroner’s characterization of environmental problems is as misinformed as his half century of wishful thinking about socialism. But this should not be surprising. Environmental issues frequently overwhelm intelligent thought and factual analysis.

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November 11, 2012, 03:44:47 PM
 #10

The main flaw in his reasoning comes in when he calculates the energy consumption of a single Bitcoin transaction (5...10 kWh), extrapolates that to all of Germany's electronic transactions (17 billion) and concludes that Bitcoin would need 85...170 TWh of electricity for Germany alone.
This logic is flawed because the energy cost is per block and never per transaction. In theory you could stuff a billion transactions into a single huge block and it would still use about the same energy to find the corresponding hash, as it does for a single transaction (at a given difficulty level).

The reasoning is about as sound as multiplying the value of all financial transactions in the EU by the weight of a single Euro coin and concluding that there's simply not enough metal in the world to run an economy on the Euro.

Also, the Bitcoin network currently greatly subsidizes mining by having a really high block reward - this makes Bitcoin transactions currently much more secure than would be justified by the amount of money transfered alone, but it also means a much higher energy consumption. This is however only a bootstrapping issue and with the block reward decreasing we'll have a much better energy footprint.

Finally, upcoming changes like for example transaction replacement makes it possible for most transactions to be settled outside the blockchain without sacrificing security and without requiring mega-blocks.
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November 11, 2012, 05:23:26 PM
 #11

I tend to agree that the video is flawed in many way's, to many assumptions and random variables that don't seem to fit.

environmental impact??

compared to the resources needed to print FIAT then the fuel costs to transport it from the mint to the banks. further transports to the ATMS. thats alot of natural resources
If you had actually watched to the video, you would have seen that there is an attempt to account for all types of electricity costs associated with the use of German currency, including transportation, storage, etc.

He did not include them when talking about creation and "e-waste", he puts waist for bitcoin at 31-71 gram per btc and 1 gram per banknote (video 9:35). I guess including paper, ink, chemicals, metals, ... used in the production of a high grade bank note was a bit far fetched.

Lets just forget the fact that most money is created with a simple db entry ... but then again creation of bitcoin happens by verifying the transactions so one could claim that the creation is a simple db entry as well  Tongue

Hang on he did not include "e-waste" of fiat transactions.  Grin

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November 11, 2012, 05:31:06 PM
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Looking forward to the discussions in this thread. I don't have much to contribute for now but I will just say that it is relevant to compare Bitcoin to traditional monetary systems. Comparing it to other cryptocurrencies is another discussion and that is not as relevant. Other cryptocurrencies are insignificant at the moment.

Except in this case the idea of Proof Of Stake (ppcoin) is relevant, because it claims to solve the problem of having to use proof of work in the long run.

molecular
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November 11, 2012, 05:33:13 PM
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environmental impact??

compared to the resources needed to print FIAT then the fuel costs to transport it from the mint to the banks. further transports to the ATMS. thats alot of natural resources

holy crap yes. that guy from the vid figures that "just to keep the EUR bills moving", 5 TWh are used every year (compare to energy consumption of germany of 600 TWh) that's friggin' significant, yes!

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November 11, 2012, 05:50:46 PM
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If I understand correctly, he says:

  • energy cost to maintain EUR cash: 5 TWh
  • energy cost to run Bitcoin currently: 0.043 TWh

hmmm.

why does he say it in such a weird way: "25 or 50 minutes of electrical power consumption of germany to produce 1 million coins".

he might then also say it takes 70 hours of electrical power consumption of germany to keep EUR cash floating around.

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November 11, 2012, 05:54:51 PM
 #15

Short answer yes.

but even today bitcoin is ecologically better then fiat.
But by how much? The US basically printed itself 1 trillion dollars for just the Iraq war or something (probably more). According to my calculations that is enough for at least 500 billion liters of gasoline.

Each liter is 36MJ according to my memory of wikipedia or 36MJ*1585/second = 57 GW averaged over the last 10 YEARS.

Of course that stuff is just the tip of the tip of the iceberg. Start to add in the real money spent on those wars (1 trillion per year not 10?), cars and mansions of banksters, the financial crisis and so on and you will puke.
I heard 40% of company earnings in the US were in the financial sector - which is then basically all waste.

You could definitely be for crypto currency on account of just wanting to "save the planet".

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https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=7539.140
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November 11, 2012, 06:02:58 PM
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It is obvious the creator of that video has no understanding of anything beyond basic math. 

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November 11, 2012, 07:27:04 PM
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Heilbroner’s characterization of environmental problems is as misinformed as his half century of wishful thinking about socialism. But this should not be surprising. Environmental issues frequently overwhelm intelligent thought and factual analysis.

Scratch an environmentalist, find a communist underneath. That's why they're called watermelons: green on the outside, red on the inside.

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November 11, 2012, 08:21:18 PM
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Heilbroner’s characterization of environmental problems is as misinformed as his half century of wishful thinking about socialism. But this should not be surprising. Environmental issues frequently overwhelm intelligent thought and factual analysis.

Scratch an environmentalist, find a communist underneath. That's why they're called watermelons: green on the outside, red on the inside.
Troll much?


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November 11, 2012, 08:26:19 PM
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The main flaw in his reasoning comes in when he calculates the energy consumption of a single Bitcoin transaction (5...10 kWh), extrapolates that to all of Germany's electronic transactions (17 billion) and concludes that Bitcoin would need 85...170 TWh of electricity for Germany alone.
This logic is flawed because the energy cost is per block and never per transaction.

Yeah, I'm only about halfway through, but this and the other major assumption he makes, that somehow "creation" of Bitcoins is separate from transaction processing, means this analysis is pretty fundamentally flawed.

Also, I'm not sure I really agree with the way he just sort of guessed at the amount of "e-waste" required to support Bitcoin.  Though, I admit it is a valid concern that this is the first time I've seen anyone point out.

I like the reference made at the beginning, to the energy cost of a banknote.  It's kind of cool to think that having 25 banknotes costs you approximately 1 Watt.

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November 11, 2012, 09:34:03 PM
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I discussed in an other thread about how to use a more "usefull" algorithm for proof of work.

Folding protein would be a good candidate, but as I mentioned it's not easy to tweak it into doing what SHA-256 can do.

The key difference is that SHA-256 (or any other digest algorithm, for that matter) allows the miner to identify himself into the digest.  By doing so, it is not possible to "steel" the work of other.

Basically with digests the hash of the coinbase transaction is in the proof of work.   So its author can publish it and noone can use it to forge an other proof of work with an other coinbase transaction.  It's tough to imagine something similar with protein folding.

Yet I proposed something.

Let imagine we have a list of polypeptides whose we are interested in knowing their three-dimensional structure.  I guess this basically consists in knowing which conformation of their rotational angles (because from what I know there is a rotational degree of freedom for each peptid link, right?) gives the lowest energy.

My idea is that instead of working on each of these polypeptides brutally, as if there were all as important, each miner takes a preference list order, which would be the exact translation of the coinbase transaction.

So he tries to find a lowest geometric conformation for each polypetide (as compared to the previously known lowest ones), but with a amelioration factor (the ratio between the new lowest divided by the previous lowest) that would decrease in the exact very order of the list mentioned above.

By doing so, when publishing the result, it will be difficult if not impossible to re-use those results, since they are computed in a very specific performance order.  They will be usefull for scientists (they do indeed give a better known geometrical conformation), but useless for other miners willing to create an other proof of work for an other preference list order.

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