Oslo Freedom Forum Bitcoin Panelists Push Back on “Anti-Environment” Slant
By Adan Kohnhorst
Oslo Freedom Forum Bitcoin Panels
Headlines in major publications are quick to decry Bitcoin over the industry’s perceived environmental impact. But are these concerns well-founded, or are they based on a skewed narrative?
This was one of the questions asked at the Oslo Freedom Forum bitcoin and human rights panels, where leading Bitcoiners and activists convened to discuss the future of cryptocurrency in the fight against tyranny. Mediated by Troy Cross, panelists Lyn Alden, Nic Carter, and Darin Feinstein touched on questions such as how Bitcoin can fight oppression, and what makes Bitcoin different from other forms of payment.
It’s no surprise that, in a summit for freedom, environmental issues rose as a consistent, recurring theme.
“On the energy footprint, we have one of the biggest intellectually dishonest debates, almost in any industry,” said Darin Feinstein, CEO of Core Scientific, about Bitcoin’s oft-misrepresented rates of energy consumption. “Every time you hear about the global Bitcoin network, what do you hear? That it uses more energy than a small planet – New Zealand, the Netherlands, and they toss in some cities too.”
This misrepresentation around energy consumption is a longstanding and uninformed anti-Bitcoin talking point – something we’ve addressed ourselves before.
“The problem with those references is that they have no frame of reference,” Darin continued. They don’t tell you how much energy is generated globally.”
“We know those numbers, and the reason you never hear them is because it’s an inconsequential number,” added Feinstein.
The truth is, Bitcoin miners are usually consuming energy in far-off, remote locations, where energy is abundant and populations are small. The people in these regions can’t consume all the energy they produce, and with most of the energy’s value lost over long-distance travel or long-term storage, much of it simply goes to waste.
Bitcoin mining is consistently profitable and relatively easy to set up. For this reason, miners are incentivized to move with the seasons, in order to capitalize on the cheapest energy – that is, energy that would otherwise go to waste.
In this way, Bitcoin mining actually offers an incredibly significant structural arm to the architecture of larger environmental change, as wind and solar producers finally have a long-needed, reliable buyer for the downseason.
It’s easy to point out that Bitcoin mining consumes more energy than a small country, or a city, etc. But it’s dishonest if you’re not also pointing out how much energy is used by other major industries, or what percentage it constitutes of global energy production – something that major publications and organizations have continually failed to do.
“The World Economic Forum…came out with a paper in 2017 that said by the year 2020, in three years, the global Bitcoin network would consume ALL the world’s energy,” said Feinstein. “How wrong was the World Economic Forum in 2017 on their prediction?”
“We’re talking about somewhere in the range of 15 – 20 basis points of the world’s energy. That’s 15 – 20 one-hundredths of a percent of the global world energy.”
The Oslo Freedom Forum bitcoin talks, part of this year’s iteration of the annual event in Oslo, Norway, hosted a diverse array of presenters and speakers, zeroing in on questions around Bitcoin, the environment, and the future of human rights worldwide.