Not even a mention of lightning? I have no idea if it works as I’ve been hearing both yes and no for several years, but writing such an article without mentioning what at least theoretically would be the solution just seems bad.

FaceDeer avatar

Last I saw Lightning was pretty much DOA, it's been around for many years and almost nobody's using it. At the time I was checking there was an order of magnitude more activity transferring Bitcoin on Ethereum using WBTC tokens than using Lightning on Bitcoin itself.


See, that’s another “no”, but then I read just as convincing “yes” posts, and I just don’t care enough to make my own research, so I have Schrödinger’s lightning network ;)

But any way, it would have to be mentioned in a serious sticker.


Yeah I made a bitcoin payment recently and I was very suprised to learn that my wallet (CakeWallet) doesn’t support Lightning payments at all. So I had to do it the old way.

Very weird because bitcoin advocates always pushed it as the holy grail. But I guess bitcoin as an actual payment method is just really too niche for it to take off.

FaceDeer avatar

I recall back when Lightning was first come up with thinking how incredibly hacky a solution it was, full of awkward workarounds for the limitations of Bitcoin's blockchain. A few small changes to the blockchain would have made it so much simpler and more robust, but at that point Bitcoin's immutability had become such a fundamentalist religion that any such changes were absolutely rejected. They wouldn't even fiddle with the block size, let alone consider expanding its scripting capabilities.

Then Ethereum came along with the exact opposite philosophy, it's willing to continue making changes to the foundation layer with the overall goal of making Ethereum more functional for diverse applications. Ever since then it's just been a slow transition of everything useful moving over to Ethereum and Bitcoin becoming ever more insular and obsolete by comparison.

It seems like I haven't thought about Bitcoin in years. When this article came up it took me a moment to shift the mental gears and go "oh yeah, that. I guess it's still around."


i strongly urge skepticism when reading articles about the environmental impacts of bitcoin. I am not saying that bitcoin is a sensible use of resources - rather that the claims made about the environmental impacts are often overstated and based on models extrapolated to absurdity. For example, see where Mora, Camilo et al suggested that “Bitcoin Emissions Alone Could Push Global Warming Above 2°C”. Then read Implausible projections overestimate near-term Bitcoin CO2 emissions by Masanet et al.

Again - the environmental impacts of cloud computing in general and bitcoin in particular are something we should be concerned about. But there are a number of researchers who have made wild claims that should be treated with a critical eye.


(Checking if outbound federation is back)

Yeah, if they had said 10 gallons, I’d buy that, but a whole swimming pool of water would be worth far more than a transaction fee I’d expect.


Yeah, generally miners will set up in places with cheap electricity. And excluding places like Azerbaijan, those sources are generally renewables.

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Yeah. Right now, the cost of a Bitcoin transaction is around $65 US. That price includes all of the expenditures that the miners have made on resources (electricity, water, rental costs for the space they're using, hardware depreciation, etc.), as well as whatever bit of profits it takes to keep miners in business. That puts a cap on whatever environmental impact the transaction is having.


So if it costs $65 for a transaction then why isn’t that the transaction fee? people would be loaing money if cost is more than the fees

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Bitcoin is inflationary, it's generating new Bitcoin with every block and issuing that to the miners. That new Bitcoin combines with the transaction fees to pay the miners.

JWBananas, avatar

Bitcoin is deflationary. There is a hard limit on the total number of bitcoins that will ever exist. Every so often, the reward for mining a block is halved. Eventually there will be effectively zero reward for mining at all.

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Maybe in the long run. However, when you want to actually calculate how much each transaction costs, you need to account for the fact that right now Bitcoin is inflationary. It won't stop issuing new tokens until around 2140 AD, assuming no hard forks happen to modify that issuance strategy in the meantime.


So mining is the bulk cost not the transactions. because my last bitcoin fee was like $10 or something

FaceDeer avatar

Yes. If you're wanting to know how many resources mining a transaction takes, that's the value you need to look at. The block reward effectively goes into subsidizing the transaction fees that are being paid.


OP, your “news” article sucks. It’s just clickbait


As tradition I won’t read the actual article and only comment on the headline - while BTC is a massive energy waste, it seems unlikely that each transaction would waste so much cooling water. Maybe each mined block, but each block should contain thousands of transactions

S0L1DX, avatar

That’s not how this works, that’s not how any of this works. BS clickbait


Care to expand?


Whether the energy consumption of an action is justified depends on the efficiency of the energy use, the practical aim of the action, whether it would replace any more or less efficient actions, and the energy source.

Simply stating it has no purpose and that the energy use of Bitcoin is somehow analogous to mass water wastage, does not seek to investigate whether Bitcoin’s energy use is justified. It’s disingenuous and reactionary.


No bitcoin is useless, but using it doesn’t cause water waste


Do you mean “No bitcoin is useless” - none of the bitcoins are useless.


“No. Bitcoins are useless” - all the bitcoins are useless.


I meant all bitcoins are useless


I feel like the “but” makes it obvious, but I wrong.


Yeah this


So the quibble is not with the claim that it uses that much water, only that they didn’t do a comparison to other things that meet the same/similar needs?


To draw a comparison between bitcoin energy consumption and water use is plainly seeking to remove context from the conditional justification for Bitcoin’s energy use, which has nothing to do with water. It’s deliberately sensationalistic. Anything that consumes energy can be described as consuming or wasting an equivalent amount of water. As a statement on whether that consumption is justified, it’s meaningless.


Anything that consumes energy can be described as consuming or wasting an equivalent amount of water.

Then do so. What equivalent exchange of any value of money uses as much water as Bitcoin? If I’m not asking you the right question here, can you tell me the actual question and what the answer is?


You’d need to qualify what you mean by ‘exchanging any value of money’. If it’s handing a note of currency to your friend, the energy cost of circulating the bill is associated. If you mean someone not in the same room, then you need to accept the associated caveats of running the traditional finance system e.g. ATM costs, financed emissions, and other essential components of the fractional reserve bank concept. Totally aside from the server requirements to physically run the network. Without all of those things, you can’t exchange any value of money.

Traditional finance almost certainly consumes as much water as Bitcoin on a per-capita basis, and on an absolute basis traditional finance uses way, way more. The difference is the global network of banking operations is opaque. For Greenidge Generation, their 2.5EH/s hashrate is a part of their product, advertising it is a sales tactic. Just makes it a bit less abstract to pick apart and then make broad generalisations about the sum hashrate of the network based on this LNG-powered site the report is based on. For what it’s worth, that’s not really a feasible way to mine Bitcoin. It suggests energy generation is their real product.

The real answer is a rhetorical question: what is the impetus for the traditional finance system to operate sustainably, either now or in future? Because for Bitcoin miners it’s clear. The monetary policy essentially dictates it over time. Reward yield decreases for the same amount of work. You don’t need to get into whether it’s environmentally sustainable, because it’s not economically sustainable unless you’re generating a fully renewable energy source.


You’d need to qualify what you mean by ‘exchanging any value of money’.

Previously you said “whether it would replace any more or less efficient actions” and I’m trying to get to the bottom of what you mean. I even asked for clarification if i was asking the wrong question. I feel like I’m now being asked to qualify what I just asked you to qualify.

The real answer is a rhetorical question: what is the impetus for the traditional finance system to operate sustainably, either now or in future? Because for Bitcoin miners it’s clear.

This sounds like it’s agreeing with the premise of the article here: Bitcoin is not sustainable. This isn’t to say other things are sustainable. It’s just pointing out that it uses a ton of water, and a lot of it has moved to a place that can’t really handle the increased water usage so it might cause a water shortage. If this is the reason the article is “not how any of this works” and “BS clickbait” then I disagree.


It was the wrong question and I just guided you on how it was wrong. For it to be the correct question you should have qualified what you meant by using that phrase. I’m sorry you didn’t understand that.

The post headline is “each Bitcoin transaction uses 4,200 gallons of water”. This generalisation is based on one Bitcoin mining operation which upon cursory inspection is actually a LNG electric company. I’m speculating but likely the reason they mine Bitcoin is to make it worth keeping the gas fire on during off-peak.

If you’re going to use a single operation to generalise about the whole network, why use this small weird outlier and not the bigger companies like Riot, Bitfarms, Genesis? I could turn around and say “each bitcoin transaction is fully renewable” based on the operations of any of those companies, and the claim would be even more substantiated than that headline is by that report. But it would still be wrong. Neither example is representative of the energy required by Bitcoin.

Now, I’m not coming to the party trying to push Bitcoin as a transactional currency, like you seemed to have a notion of it trying to compete as. I don’t think it’s much good for that. But I’m not about to go believing some made up shit about how a computer solving some cryptographic puzzles has a comparable environmental impact to filling an entire swimming pool. Gimme a break dude.


ok then just use salt water. You’re welcome nerds!


Ok thats not even remotely accurate. wtf is this clickbait shit. You can argue that bitcoin is bad for the environment but if you’re gonna invent statistics at least make is plausible.


False. Mining is what uses electricity (and water) in bitcoin, not transactions. Adding more transactions does not add to the cost. Calculating consumption per transaction is misleading as the two are not related.

What does add to the cost is complexity, and complexity is calculated based on number of miners in the network in order to achieve the sweet spot of 1 block every 10 mins (if i remember correctly). If there’s a lot of competition, each miner will have to use more electricity to win.


Finally someone that get’s it


700kWh per transaction? That’s absurd amount of power. That’s 70 EUR of energy per one transaction at current (EU) exchange price.

Is there anyone here knowledgeable enough about this issue to say whether those numbers are correct, or just an overestimate? It feels wrong.


They are insanely off, yes.


It’s incorrect. I would comparing to fuel consumption in a car based on how many times you turned. If you make more turns on your way, it would seem your car is more efficient, when in reality there’s very little relation between turns and fuel usage, just like there is little relation between number of blocks mined and transactions.

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It's an overestimate. Right now the total cost per transaction is around 82 US dollars, which at current exchange rates is 75 Euros. That cost covers everything - electricity, rent for the building, salary for staff, taxes, depreciation of mining equipment, and whatever profit is required to keep the miners in business. I don't know what proportion of miner costs actually goes to electricity but I expect it'll likely be much less than 70 Euros.

Perhaps someone got that 700 kWh figure by doing the reverse calculation - looking at how much a transaction cost and then assuming that all goes toward electricity.


The number varies a little bit (I’ve seen estimates 600-1200 kWh) but this is well within an order of magnitude of being correct. It’s the nature of the competitive mining network and the proof of work system: if you can spend more computing power (i.e. energy) than everyone else there are lucrative mining rewards to be had. At the same time adding more computing power to the network doesn’t add more transaction processing power, because mining difficulty is constantly adjusted to keep the speed more or less constant.

This naturally leads to exorbitant power consumption per transaction. Note that most of this power is not being purchased at EU exchange prices (mining naturally moves to where electricity can be had for cheap to maximize profits).


I just hope bitcoin will finally die. It’s literally just wasting absurd amount of energy, only to allow scammers to scam billions of dollars from victims, and regular people to steal from eachother by investing into it. I mean, if the only use of bitcoin by now is for speculation and investment, then it means that any dollar you made, you literally stole from someone else who will be left with useless bitcoin once it’s all over. There’s no value, and with the ledger getting bigger and bigger, and bitcoin more expensive to mine, it will eventually be worthless. And we all know it, so anyone who makes thousands of dollars, there’s someone who probably financially ruined himself by making a wrong and stupid investment at the wrong time.

I hate crypto so much :D.


You can exchange it for goods and services in the same way as the dollar. Which is the goal of it in the first place. Disregarding the cost for the sake of this point, it functions in a similar way as the dollar, which you could argue is also just used for speculation, but it would be equally inaccurate. Then there is describing bitcoin as all of the cryptocurrency ecosystem, which is also incorrect. It’s an evolving technology, and the system bitcoin uses is legacy and expensive, and is currently being kept alive by being the first in the space, money interests wanting to keep it dominant because of investment and a horde of cultlike followers. However, in the ethereum ecosystem, transactions keep getting cheaper through layer 2 protocols and upgrades to the system. It uses proof of stake which is vastly cheaper. I think there certainly are valid arguments against cryprocurrency, but the stuff everyone keeps NPC copypasting is generally nonsense.


You are right I shouldn’t have equaled bitcoin with the rest of the crypto ecosystem. While most crypto is utter scam, it’s true that there have been some slight advances here and there, and there are coins that may be actually useful for some cases, mostly Monero and I suppose Ethereum. I’d still say that crypto has done more harm than good in the world, and I say that as someone who’s really focused at privacy, care about it a lot and have invested significant amount of time and effort into staying as private as possible.

But it’s great that Ethereum managed to solve most of the issues with Bitcoin - unless I’m mistaken, it’s not really used for investment speculation, and if it managed to keep the energy requirements low, that’s good. But last time I remember researching about blockchain (it was few months, so feel free to correct me), isn’t it running into serious issues with ledger size, that makes it infeasible for long-term (decades) of use, without sacrificing some of it’s guarantees? Which is one of the main issues with blockchain tech in general, that I don’t think has been solved so far.


It’s a process. There certainly are a lot of scams, and correct regulations need to be in place. It is a tool used by people who do harm, though it is not the cause of harm. At the same time, it’s helped a lot of startups innovate in non-traditional ways, and i think a global and affordable currency that is not tied to the local currency has the potential to help a lot of people. Ethereum in theory should be more stable in terms of price as it keeps being minted and destroyed trough use of the blockchain. You can speculate with it, or the ERC-20 tokens in it’s ecosystem. Ledger size is an issue i’ve had to deal with myself setting up a node, but it’s also an issue that can be fixed in several ways if it looks like it could become a significant enough issue, as they did with PoW to PoS.

I think it’s hard to measure what good and bad crypto is done when you only hear about outragous corruption and crime but not how the everyday person uses it. I use it in a way that helps myself and others and I’m no north korean drug lord scamming people.


You can exchange it for goods and services in the same way as the dollar. Which is the goal of it in the first place. Disregarding the cost for the sake of this point

But you can’t disregard the cost. No big box retailer is going to start accepting BTC transactions at the point of sale. It takes too long, and is too resource intensive. So you’re essentially limited to secondary markets or person-to-person transactions where seconds in processing the transaction don’t count. Not to mention the volatility of the exchange rate. A business or a government aren’t going to accept that the currency they accepted today could potentially be worth half its value tomorrow. Without some sort of major catastrophic world event, something like that isn’t going to happen to the dollar. That kind of shit destabilizes entire economies and nations.

There’s also the issue of reputation. Regardless of validity, cryptocurrency is seen as something used for criminal activity. If your local city government said they’d start accepting BTC for your water bill or trash bill, the majority of average folk are going to think “that stuff people buy drugs with on the Internet?”

BTC has never been and will never be viable as a mass market currency system.


I agree, BTC is awful. But I also think its just a starting point for something that has the potential to become much better.

fosforus, (edited )

Ethereum transactions are claimed to use about 1-22 Wh per transaction. Not sure where the wide range comes from, but at least it’s quite a lot better then Bitcoin’s ~700-2000kWh per transaction. Ethereum is comparable to how much a credit card transaction is said to spend, although those figures only take into account power needed for their computer systems. Blockchain currencies replace a lot more infrastructure than just the computer systems, so I think it’s reasonable to say that Eth2 is more energy efficient than credit cards.

That’s not enough to make it a replacement for credit cards yet, but it’s a good lowest of the low barriers to be crossed to qualify as a replacement.

In a few years, we’ll probably be spending a huge amount of power for AI also, and there doesn’t seem to be any Proof-of-Stake -like technology to help with that. Good times.




Indeed, sir.


Bitcoin is fake so fake story of fakeness.


It’s a necessary sacrifice to push more ponzi schemes


It’s actually a scam pushed by Big Water to get you to use more water and line their pockets.


Not only is the science underlying all these findings completely non-existent, they only “guesstimate” what the water usage of what every thing that uses water is; then blindly divide that by the transaction volume per time period.

Not only is that method highly flawed; it’s incorrect. Computers do more than mine crypto; and 1 transaction typically costs not even 1 tenth of a percent of most miners’ overall computer resources. This is due to the fact that many miners are utilizing either a GPU or FPGA style device to power optimize and optimize the mathematics necessary to secure a transaction.

JWBananas, avatar

That might have been true a decade ago. But GPUs and FPGAs have long been obsolete for mining Bitcoin.

Mining is happening on custom silicon in large-scale operations. They specifically observed several of those large-scale operations in multiple nations and extrapolated out. I don’t see how that methodology is flawed.


The people that care about this sort of thing are incapable of fixing it- and the people that could fix it- don’t care.

My advice? Get used to it. This is the new normal.


Or make it illegal. Why waste so many resources on something that doesn’t produce any value for society?


Because of these transactions, many countries, such as the United States, could face freshwater shortages if the currency becomes more widely adopted.


Blocks get mined (secured) with the same amount of power no matter the number of transactions in each.

Interesting that an article like this would come out right as Bitcoin’s value is going up and the US SEC is considering approval of several Bitcoin ETFs.

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