This article was written with WSJ and NYT reporting standards.
Bitcoin miners may be some of the most destructive individuals operating in our world today. The negative externalities that they produce pale in comparison to the negative externalities that we experience from monopolistic corporations and government. While there has been great work in the past to cover Bitcoin mining's shortcomings such as, water usage, driving up energy prices, ASICs carbon output, no one has discussed the heat produced by the miners themselves, and how this inevitably will raise the world's temperature at an alarming rate. This issue first came on to my radar after a man was arrested in Canada for "intentional climate change" while heating his home with an Antminer S9. The Canadian government was able to see that this individual was using Bitcoin mining to intentionally warm the climate and put that dangerous activity to a stop.
Bitcoin mining has grown at an alarming rate as the price has continued to appreciate. In 2023, Bitcoin mining used almost as much energy as Christmas lights, but produces 100x the amount of heat. On the current trajectory, miners could ruin Christmas for children around the world who cannot afford to run Christmas lights. Not only that, miner's intentional climate change could be (Definitely is because it's convenient to the point I'm trying to make) playing a major roll in creating wild swings in weather. Just this week, 25% of Bitcoin's hash rate went offline due to erratic winter weather, clearly exasperated by Bitcoin miners. Not only does Bitcoin miner's intentional climate change hurt normal people, but is also hurts the miners themselves. There are clear ways to combat this though and make Bitcoin mining more equitable for all.
A man in North Dakota is experimenting with a new product which he calls the "Ice Cube Miner." What it is, is a container setup that is chilled to the point where all the mining computers turn into literal ice cubes to prevent them from putting out heat. While this can sometimes interfere with the computer functionality, it has proven to completely resolve any issues of intentional climate change. Reports are that this man is in talks with major mining hardware manufactures to sell his patent.
There are solutions to the problems we face, but it's vital that we have good and honest data when we are evaluating the problems presented by Bitcoin mining. It is obvious that climate issues are the primary concern in regards to mining, and not that the Chinese control the entire ASIC market, or that 1 company makes 90% of all mining hardware. We should major mining companies accountable for warming the climate and shriek at them until there is corrected behavior. While some propose moving Bitcoin to proof of stake in order to resolve climate related issues, the real innovation would not be in killing Bitcoin. Instead there can be major growth in the hardware side to offset concerns. To eliminate the carbon produced by the computers, we can attach carbon capture devices to them, essentially turning each one into a carbon negative air filter! We can also explore ideas like the "Ice Cube miner" as well as looking at how to minimize Bitcoin's water usage. Could Bitcoin transactions rely on salt water instead of fresh water? These are the questions that must be asked.