Lessons From Reason’s “The Fake Environmentalist Attack on Bitcoin” Mini-Doc

Phenomenal piece by Reason Magazine. We at NewsBTC have been countering the Bitcoin-is-bad-for-the-environment narrative for a while now. Now, we have a new tool. A short and sweet documentary that rests on a devastating premise. “Such environmentalist attacks on bitcoin are best understood as a strategy by economic, media, and political elites to undermine a powerful new form of money that they can’t control.” Boom! That’s exactly what’s happening.

Related Reading | Bitcoin Mining Vs. The World: BTC Leads Sustainable Energy

Let’s explore the idea further, but first, let’s let Reason Magazine define who they are and what they stand for:

“Reason is the planet’s leading source of news, politics, and culture from a libertarian perspective. Go to reason.com for a point of view you won’t get from legacy media and old left-right opinion magazines.”

You’ve been warned. This is the perspective you’ll get from this article and from “The Fake Environmentalist Attack on Bitcoin” Mini-Doc:

The mini-documentary starts with the filthy propaganda the state usually serves:

“Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are terrible for the environment,” declares Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). “It’s an extremely inefficient way of conducting transactions,” pronounces former Federal Reserve Chair and current Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. “It’s a way to both hide dirty money and destroy the environment at the same time,” says Daily Show host Trevor Noah.

Reason Magazine Summarizes The Government’s Perspective

Then, Elizabeth Warren brings up the most ridiculously flamboyant stat ever uttered. According to the Senator, a single Bitcoin transaction uses the same amount of energy that an average house uses in 53 days. WHAT? Couldn’t these government people control themselves and provide a more plausible number? Do people actually believe these made-up stats? Apparently, they do, as the Discord story proves. 

“Discord’s founder and CEO Jason Citron hinted at possible integration with the Ethereum ecosystem, with NFTs, and with the incoming Web3. And all hell broke loose.
Discord fanatics spammed Citron’s replies and canceled their subscriptions to their Nitro premium service. Discord’s own employees took to social media to express their discomfort. Video game culture influencers rallied the masses and gathered hundreds of Likes and Retweets. What were their reasons? Environmental concerns.”

Back to Reason’s documentary, Bitcoin spokesperson Nic Carter dismantles the government’s techniques. They establish an exaggerated per transaction cost, and then “extrapolate Bitcoin’s transactional load to hundreds of billions per year.” They’re not dumb, they know that “The electricity consumed by mining isn’t used to power individual transactions.” However, the average citizen doesn’t. Nic Carter closes with, “Bitcoin’s transactions and Bitcoin’s energy use are not really correlated.”

They aren’t. Bitcoin produces one block full of transactions every ten minutes on average. If we reduced the mining to only one machine, Bitcoin would still produce the same amount of blocks in the same amount of minutes. 

BTC price chart for 11/19/2021 on Capital.com | Source: BTC/USD on TradingView.com
The Media Claims Are Outlandish, To Say The Least

The mini-documentary’s host is Nick Gillespie, Reason’s Editor At Large. He admits “The energy used by Bitcoin mining has increased significantly and it will continue to grow, but the media claims are outlandish.” As an example, he offers this ridiculous 2017 Newsweek article titled “Bitcoin Mining on Track to Consume All of the World’s Energy by 2020.” As you might suspect, Newsweek’s prediction didn’t come true.

Then, it’s time for some real stats. According to the Cambridge Center for Alternative Finance, Bitcoin consumes “just over a hundred terawatt-hours per year.” That’s 117.02, to be exact. That’s on the high end of the spectrum of Nick Hansen’s estimations. According to him, “most likely, the Bitcoin network is between 4.2 and 14.2 Gigawatts” per hour. If the network consumed the full 14.2 Gigawatts per hour, that would amount to 124 terawatt-hours per year. However, it’s probably considerably less if Hansen’s stats are right.

Pick the number you trust the most, it’s still a worthy investment considering everything Bitcoin offers the world.

Critics Tend To Ignore These Facts

Reason defines mining as “the process through which a global network of computers maintains the bitcoin network through computation. Though energy-intensive, this process is what makes bitcoin a truly decentralized monetary system.” And that’s a fact. Proof-Of-Work is essential to decentralization. There is no alternative. A little later, Reason’s Nick Gillespie hits us with another home run, “the work being carried out by this global computer network is what allows Bitcoin to be controlled by mathematical rules instead of human actors vulnerable to government or corporate control.”

Then, the documentary presents another crucial fact, “Miners are incentivized to use energy that would otherwise go to waste.” The Human Rights Foundation’s Alex Gladstein puts it in another way, “Bitcoin miners need energy that nobody else wants.” Why? Because it’s cheaper. The incentives are clear as day.

After that, Reason brings out the ace under Bitcoin’s sleeve, “In the Western United States, mobile Bitcoin miners are already running on electricity derived from unused natural gas from oil wells that can’t be captured because there are no pipelines to carry it.” Luckily for the government, Reason doesn’t bring up everything Bitcoin mining is doing for the Navajo Nation.

Reason Closes It Off With Even More Stats 

In a questionable move, Reason quotes the Bitcoin Mining Council controversial report. That one puts Bitcoin’s sustainable energy use at around 56%. Let’s quote NewsBTC’s report on that number.

“The good news is, there’s data to show that Bitcoin’s “mining electricity mix increased to 56% sustainable in Q2 2021.” Is that data valid? That’s another question altogether. The Bitcoin Mining Council elaborates on the results:

The results of this survey show that the members of the BMC and participants in the survey are currently utilizing electricity with a 67% sustainable power mix.”

Related Reading | Power Ledger Blockchain Firm Signs Deal with Japanese Green Energy Supplier

We can say that because, here at NewsBTC, we’re partial to Bitcoin. Was it a good idea for Reason to use it? Maybe not, but notice that they used the conservative 56% figure and not the aspirational 67% one. The magazine knows what it’s doing. That’s why they brought back Nic Carter to close the documentary, “Bitcoin is a vote of no confidence in the monetary and financial system that exists today.”

That’s exactly what it is. Among other things.

Featured Image: Screenshot from the documentary | Charts by TradingView

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