Unfortunately, here is exactly where Bitcoin’s negative environmental impact comes into play. The computing power required to mine coins is astronomical--according to Investopedia, the network “uses 121 Terawatt-hours of electricity every year… more than the entire country of Argentina.” A recent study done by the University of Cambridge found that coal accounts for about 40% of miner power. That’s not a great figure. And the energy needs of mining Bitcoins only increase as time goes on, because Bitcoin is a finite resource. According to NBC, a study in the 2019 Joule scientific journal found that “Bitcoin production is estimated to generate between 22 and 22.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year.” That is equivalent to 2.7 billion homes.
Until very recently, most mining (over 60%) has taken place in China. However, China has as of late attempted to dissuade Bitcoin mining due to its carbon footprint. Unfortunately, this just means that miners are now moving operations to other countries. There needs to be a more widespread crack down on mining so that is no longer an option. The energy requirements of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are unsustainable and pose great threats to the future of the environment
The hardware used on mining farms has its own inevitable environmental impacts--between 8,000 to 12,000 tons of unrecyclable circuits, or E-Waste, per year. On top of that, the mining plants have large amounts of hardware that needs to be cooled. According to Columbia Climate School, one plant in New York “draws up to 139 million gallons of fresh water... each day to cool the plant and discharges it some 30 to 50° F hotter than the lake’s average temperature, endangering the lake’s wildlife and ecology.”