Regarding Allan Sloan’s Jan. 1 Business column, “A final word: Be wary of crypto and anything to do with Elon Musk,” the Jan. 1 Business article “ ‘Crypto winter’ has come. And it’s looking more like an ice age.” and “Tracking down the criminals lurking in the blockchain,” the Jan. 1 Book World review of Andy Greenberg’s “Tracers in the Dark: The Global Hunt for the Crime Lords of Cryptocurrency”:
Cryptocurrencies are not only terrible investments and a medium for criminal activity; they also are an important source of carbon emissions. Blockchain technology uses high-powered, energy-intensive computers to solve complex equations. Blockchain is inefficient by design; each bitcoin transaction requires more than 100,000 times the electricity needed to process a credit card transaction. The total amount of energy expended globally to support cryptocurrencies is unknown, but Cambridge University researchers estimated that bitcoin uses more electricity than Argentina. More than a third of crypto mining occurs in the United States, with resulting electricity usage similar to that for all residential lighting in the country. Cryptocurrencies are a significant driver of greenhouse gas emissions.
The Inflation Reduction Act aims to make U.S. electricity generation “greener.” Those efforts will be essential, but not sufficient, to address the crisis of climate change. We must also reduce wasteful uses of energy. Eliminating cryptocurrencies would be a great step in that effort.
Thomas R. O’Brien, Potomac