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Marianne Beltran
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Earth Day 2021: Cryptocurrencies and Sustainability

Read about cryptocurrencies misconceptions and environmental sustainability, and the evolution of crypto.

Earth Day 2021: Cryptocurrencies and Sustainability

Interest in Cryptocurrencies has risen dramatically as the support from institutions and even mainstream adoption continues to grow. With the world’s attention and recent thrust into spotlight, this has inevitably sparked conversations surrounding crypto and its sustainability.

While there are merits to the issues raised, there still lies a misconception; that every crypto in existence has demanding environmental repercussions.

Many detractors lump cryptos under one basket and erase the nuance that comes with cryptocurrencies.

As of 2021, there are over 4000 cryptocurrencies available on the digital infrastructure today, all serving different goals and have various ways of operating.

Cryptocurrencies and Mining

The target of scrutiny usually revolves around the intensive energy consumption that comes from the act of “mining cryptos”.

Mining: The process of having computers collate and record all transactions into a block, on the Blockchain. Think of it as transactions being recorded on a bank ledger, except that all transactions are readily available for public viewing.

Bitcoin – which is at the centre of many debates – is a first generation cryptocurrency and uses mining.

FACT: Not all cryptocurrencies require mining.

Within the top 10 cryptocurrencies, 6 do not use mining. Out of the remaining 4 cryptos that do, 2 cryptos Litecoin and the infamous Dogecoin uses an algorithm called “Scrypt”. This algorithm merely requires a regular laptop to be operated and eliminates the need to use high-powered computers or mining farms, therefore consuming less energy.  

Newer Cryptos developed with the sustainability in mind

The cryptocurrency scene has since evolved from its genesis and has been issuing out more tokens with eco-friendliness in mind with the likes of Ripple (XRP) and Zilliqa (ZIL).

XRP is an example of a cryptocurrency that is not dependent on harnessing massive amounts of energy. Every unit of XRP that exists has already been created as such it is incredibly efficient when it comes to energy consumption.

Currently, the energy consumption of the 4th largest cryptocurrency, XRP could power a mere seven lightbulbs.

Closer to home, the brainchild of a team from National University of Singapore, Zilliqa (ZIL) is known for being  eco-friendly and this comes despite its use of mining. ZIL’s reformed consensus mechanism has reduced its ecological footprint significantly – only requiring 1 minute out of every 2-3 hours to mine ZIL.

Established cryptos using more efficient methods

Ethereum, home of one of the largest cryptocurrency Ether (ETH) have already begun their shift from the use of mining to another method of validating transactions known as “Proof of Stake”. This method is a less energy intensive standard and with this, Ethereum plans to cut their energy consumption by 99 percent.

Curious about ETH? 👉 Check ETH prices today

Some of the top cryptos that already use POS or a version of it including Polkadot (DOT) and Cardano (ADA).

Repurposing energy in other useful applications

Apart from the conscious effort to stray from energy-intensive mining methods, some of the top minds in the space have brought ways to repurpose the energy generated from mining to be used for everyday functions.

Do you take your showers with a heater?

Then the energy you used to heat up your shower, is similar to what this boiler that doubles as a mining equipment does. The Wisemining Sato Boiler created by Wisemining company is a product that is aimed at providing heat for homes using energy from mining Bitcoin.

Wisemining Sato Boiler

Without minimising the importance of having discussions about the environmental sustainability of cryptocurrencies, it is also important not to condemn and criminalise cryptocurrencies.

We hope you have learnt a thing or two from this piece - let’s all take small and sustainable steps to protect our planet together!

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All opinions expressed here by Coinhako.com are intended for educational purposes, taken from the research and experiences of the writers of the platform, and should not be taken as investment or financial advice.