02/04/2024 0 Comments

Bitcoin’s Resurgence and the U.S. Dollar’s Uncertain Future

With Bitcoin’s price reaching a staggering $43,000, marking a 200% increase from its recent lows, the crypto market has once again caught the attention of investors worldwide. Meanwhile, the U.S. dollar has been declared ‘finished’ by a Wall Street luminary, adding to the intrigue surrounding the traditional and digital financial landscapes. Amidst this, the Biden administration has issued an ’emergency data collection request’ to those securing the Bitcoin network, sparking fear of a government crackdown on the Bitcoin mining industry.

Emergency Data Collection: A Cause for Concern?

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has initiated an ’emergency’ survey of Bitcoin miners to gather information on their energy usage. The move, which is a response to rising concerns about the environmental impact of Bitcoin mining, has raised eyebrows in the crypto community. The fear is that the information collected could be used to draft policies that could potentially harm the mining industry.

Bitcoin Mining: A Potential Threat to Energy Conservation

The EIA’s decision to monitor the electricity use of selected U.S. based miners over the next six months comes amidst concerns of increased electricity demand during a cold snap and a spike in Bitcoin prices. Estimates suggest that cryptocurrency mining accounts for 0.6 to 2.3% of all U.S. electricity consumption. The EIA plans to develop a snapshot of cryptomining companies and their energy usage, quantify fluctuations in energy usage, pinpoint energy sources, and identify regions of high growth in cryptomining.

Implications of the Upcoming Bitcoin ‘Halving’

The upcoming historical ‘halving’ of Bitcoin is another factor contributing to the current market volatility. This event, which effectively halves the reward for mining Bitcoin transactions, is expected to cause price chaos and could potentially shake the industry to its core, leading to what some are calling a $3.3 trillion earthquake.

Speculations and the DAME Tax Proposal

Speculations are brewing about potential underlying intentions behind the emergency declaration. Some believe it could be a precursor to the introduction of more stringent regulations or a complete prohibition of Bitcoin mining. Last year, the Biden administration introduced a proposal for the Digital Asset Mining Energy (DAME) excise tax. If implemented, this tax could levy up to a 30% tax on the electricity expenses of crypto mining companies, aimed at combating climate change by addressing the sector’s significant energy consumption and environmental footprint.

Looking Forward: The Future of Crypto Mining

The recent developments have highlighted the need for the crypto industry to take proactive measures to mitigate its environmental impact. If the sector can successfully navigate these challenges and continue to innovate, it could potentially usher in a new era of financial systems where digital currencies coexist with traditional ones. However, the road ahead appears fraught with regulatory and environmental challenges, making the future of crypto mining an interesting space to watch.

2. Issues With Bitcoin Mining Beyond Excessive Power Usage: Analysis

Bitcoin mining has always been under scrutiny for its high power consumption. However, a recent New York Times report highlighted how the only issue with Bitcoin mining is not its high electricity consumption. Problems with the intense process of creating the OG cryptocurrency range from increased environmental pollution to human resource implications. The following analysis highlights a few key issues associated with the Bitcoin Mining process.

Bitcoin mining crumbles property value and disrupts wildlife

The New York Times research highlighted how the foremost problem with Bitcoin mining lies in the amount of sound it creates. Computer noise that produces trillions of calculations every second tends to disrupt a normal course of life. However, despite strict laws in many countries regarding noise pollution, many mining agents find loopholes to trick the system.

However, one might argue that the collateral damage of an intensive task like mining should genuinely be ignored. Researchers highlight that the extreme noise caused by these big machines creates issues like lack of attention, palpitation among the elderly, and in extreme cases even lifelong complications in hearing.

The NYT article also highlights that adverse implications of a big Bitcoin mining site can also result in disruption in wildlife. All these factors together contribute to the devaluation of a property that is near a mining site.

A lengthy and extreme process like Bitcoin Mining is likely to produce a significant amount of e-waste. According to Investopedia, the mining of Bitcoin generates almost 77 kilotons of electrical garbage per year as a byproduct. According to a recent analysis, for every $1 in value of Bitcoin created in 2018, $0.49 in damages to the US economy were caused. The same number comes in at $0.37 in losses to China’s economy.

University of Mexico in a recent study highlighted different emissions of pollutants connected with each kilowatt hour of energy generation in the US and China. These countries are two nations where a lot of Bitcoin mining takes place. The search utilized this to determine the effects on health and the environment, or “crypto damages,” for each coin produced. The study found that climate impacts like carbon dioxide emissions from the generation of electricity, exposure to sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and fine particulate matter, are all by-products of crypto mining. This causes severe health impacts because these substances are known to raise the risk of premature mortality.

Eighty-nine percent of crypto damages in China are attributed to human health consequences. The rest is accounted for climate change with the remaining 11 percent. About 40% of crypto damages in the US are related to health issues, and 60% are related to climate change.

From depression to long working hours: Bitcoin Mining’s human resource complication

A cumbersome process like BTC mining requires long hours and constant monitoring. According to research by Princeton, contrary to what some supporters assert, Bitcoin is not a fixed, rule-driven, incentive-compatible system. Since the industry is a 24*7 employed work, it usually causes people to work for long, have hefty shifts, and sustain a lot of fatigue. Additionally, this causes depression and other psychological problems for those working in the industry.

However, there is still a huge gap in this aspect of the negative impact of crypto mining. Most researchers mostly focus on how crypto impacts the environment. However, the implication of this cumbersome process on those working in this industry is still not explored properly. This gives room for future analysis and discoveries.

3. China Doubles Down on Crypto Mining Restrictions

Beijing, China recently released an updated energy conservation implementation plan with explicit measures to crack down on cryptocurrency mining operations.

The plan underscores a commitment to reducing energy consumption and emissions through monitoring, analyzing, and “resolutely” eliminating virtual currency mining activities.

This represents a more focused approach to halting mining compared to China’s broader anti-crypto stance. With many operations having moved overseas following the 2021 mining ban, the new directive aligns with national carbon neutrality goals.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Energy Information Administration has unveiled an initiative to collect comprehensive data on commercial crypto mining energy use. This move aims to inform regulators on the industry’s environmental impact as digital currencies mature.

While China doubles down on mining restrictions, the U.S. takes proactive steps toward energy use transparency.

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Harvey CHEN