A Matter of Degrees

Crypto Has a Climate Problem

Nov. 17, 2022

This episode delves into the murky world of cryptocurrency and its impact on our planet. Join Katharine and Leah as they discover how digital currencies are breathing new life into previously shuttered coal plants across the United States.  This episode features Alex de Vries, data scientist and founder of Digiconimist, an online platform that tracks Bitcoin’s energy consumption; Anne Hedges, the director of policy and legislative affairs at watchdog organization Montana Environmental Information Center; and New York State Assemblymember Anna Kelles, who sponsored a bill to establish a two-year moratorium on crypto mining in New York. Leah mentions this White House report about the climate impacts of cryptocurrency. Alex points out how famous cryptographer Hal Finney foresaw crypto’s huge emissions from the start. Anne mentions how China cracked down on cryptocurrency, which has pushed companies to operate in other nations, including the United States. Assemblymember Kelles warns that Bitcoin won’t deliver on equity or access to wealth: roughly 0.01% of wallets hold 27% of the currency. On the bright side, Ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency, just reduced its energy consumption 99% by switching to proof-of-stake.  Next time, we’ll look at the fight for climate accountability within corporate America. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and don’t miss a single episode this season!

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