CORRESPONDENCE

Cryptocurrency mining is neither wasteful nor uneconomic

Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.
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In my view, Spyros Foteinis’s arguments against bitcoin’s burgeoning technology on the grounds of its carbon footprint are economically unsound (Nature 554, 169; 2018). He compounds the common misperception that cryptocurrency mining is inherently wasteful.

Foteinis estimates that the combined annual electricity consumption due to bitcoin and ethereum mining is 80% that of Greece. But Bitcoin and ethereum last year together generated wealth of US$275 billion (see go.nature.com/2drhvfi). Given that the 11 million inhabitants of Greece generated wealth of almost US$205 billion in the same year (see go.nature.com/2ha6mqg) and would have consumed much more than just electrical energy in the process, the mining of cryptocurrency seems considerably less wasteful.

The only reform required here is for all nations to move away from fossil-fuel-based electricity generation to nuclear or other sustainable alternatives. The specific association of cryptocurrencies with this unconditional imperative distracts from the real problem.

Nature 555, 443 (2018)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-03391-2

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