The rise of cryptocurrency and NFTs

Noelle Escalante, Staff Writer

Society has come to idolize an ideal future. Exponential technical advancements in transportation, education and the economy are all glorified in the media, yet they are closer than we may think. The rise of digital money has come to conceal the hidden anatomy of transactions that occur all across the globe, with corporations such as Samsung and Apple implementing digital credit card systems across metropolitan areas. With technology further embedding itself into today’s society, new emerging forms of currency called cryptocurrency are further decreasing the presence of physical money in the worldwide economy. However, its immense popularity and quick implementation comes with one small exchange for the wealth of economists and investors: the environment. 

ㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤAnjana Narasimhanㅤ ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT GOLD: Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are growing at the expense of the environment.

Cryptocurrency, in simple terms, is digital money that is decentralized from any form of government. This form of universal digital currency prevents transactions from being double-spent as digital tokens, which are digital representations of rights and profit. With this, cryptocurrency has already enabled a financial revolution. According to a Nasdaq article published in August 2021, the pandemic catalyzed the institutional appeal of cryptocurrency, with the value of Bitcoin reaching the all-time high of $68,000 on Nov. 10, 2021. The rise in Bitcoin investments has come from the United States’ release of stimulus checks, making Bitcoin seemingly more available than ever before. However, with the expense of its growth also comes significant consequences on Earth’s environment.

Due to the advanced technology that is required in order to run the blockchain technology of cryptocurrency, it is expected that cryptocurrency alone will increase Earth’s global temperature above two degrees Celsius in the next 30 years, as written in an article published by the Columbia Climate School. The advanced technology used to mine requires up to 121.36 terawatts per year, being more electricity usage than all of Argentina.  

With the massive rate at which crypto businesses like Bitcoin are growing, the amount of emissions that cryptocurrency is assimilating into the atmosphere has grown to emit a staggering 37 megatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per year, according to a CNBC article published in 2021. The burning of fossil fuels has caused more carbon dioxide to enter into the atmosphere, leading to holes in the ozone layer, which inhabits and protects a majority of the oxygen that circulates Earth. There may seem to be a simple solution to this—to ban and prevent crypto mining from occurring, right? However, the market appeal of cryptocurrency is what is causing its great uprise.

 

ㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤAnjana Narasimhan NO MORE MONKEY BUSINESS: NFTs like this $210,000 Bored Ape may not be as environmentally friendly as you think.

With the hype around cryptocurrency evolving, sparks of sustainability and changes towards crypto mining began to rise, due to the criticism received on its impact towards the environment. From a published video by The Wall Street Journal, a bitcoin mining facility in Upstate New York began to use hydropower as a way to test how proficient it is without the use of fossil fuels. However, the use of hydropower is not fully “clean.” From an article published by Cosmos Magazine, crypto companies such as Bitcoin do not seek out clean sources of energy because they care about their environmental impact, but rather that it impacts their profit margins at a more positive rate. 

While the rise in wealth will continue in cryptocurrency companies, increasing investments only further contribute to the climate crisis that is occurring in our world today. Ultimately, we must focus on important social and economic issues in society before we begin to idolize our future.