The Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index developed by researchers at the U.K.'s Cambridge University estimated that the electricity used to mine bitcoins last year equaled the annual carbon footprint of Argentina.
Bitcoin mining entails solving complex math problems in order to generate new bitcoins, with miners rewarded in the cryptocurrency; a maximum 21 million bitcoins can be mined, and the more that are mined, the tougher the algorithms that need solving to get bitcoins.
Over 18.5 million bitcoins have been mined, and computers that can handle the intense processing power of the process are needed to get bitcoin.
Environmentalists are concerned because, they say, bitcoin miners use the cheapest available source of electricity to power the process, even if that turns out to be coal.
Bitcoin advocates believe bitcoin mining is a secure, inexpensive global value transfer and storage system that is worth the environmental cost.
From The Guardian (U.K.)
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