Content-type: text/html Downes.ca ~ Stephen's Web ~ Every Bitcoin payment 'uses a swimming pool of water'

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

This isn't about ed tech per se but I want to flag as irresponsible this type of reporting. The article says, "bitcoin consumed nearly 1,600 billion litres - also known as gigalitres (GL) - of water in 2021". I think this is very generous - it even includes evaporation from hydro power reservoirs. The argument is made that "Up to three billion people worldwide already experience water shortages." But this shortage is of distribution, not supply. To make my point: note that 1,600 billion litres amounts to 0.0016 cubic kilometers of water. For comparison, almond production is about 4 cubic kilometers per year. By contrast, Lake Baikal alone contains 23,600 cubic kilometers of water. Lake Baikal alone could supply water for bitcoin for more than 14,000,000 years. And only 5,850 years of almond production. It would do a lot for world water shortages generally, if it were better located. Shutting down bitcoin won't help people facing water shortages. Global income redistribution, by contrast, would - but I rarely see this in the press as an argument for anything.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada
stephen@downes.ca

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Last Updated: May 30, 2024 02:46 a.m.

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