Erik Weijers, 2 months ago

Greenpeace's Skull of Satoshi tries to convince us Bitcoin is bad for the environment

We must admit that we like the artwork better than the campaign. Greenpeace USA had 'art activist' Benjamin Von Wong create a sculpture. Made from waste metal, it's called the Skull of Satoshi. It's supposedly highlighting Bitcoin's 'record of climate destruction'. 

Greenpeace's campaign was kicked off a year ago. It's called Change the Code, and intents to urge the Bitcoin community to have its favorite Orange Coin switch to a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism, because that consumes far less energy.  

The new artwork is a new attempt of the campaign to highlight Bitcoin's pollution. In a promo video, Von Wong relates about having visited the melting Greenland ice sheet and being severely worried. He made the 3.5-meter-high artwork out of electronic waste. 

Bitcoin's energy consumption a problem?

To outsiders, Bitcoin's energy consumption may be a real concern. But to people who are closer to the crypto fire, it may feel a bit misinformed. After all, the tobacco industry, for example, uses more energy than Bitcoin. Why not target that industry? Also, the energy Bitcoin uses isn't 'wasted': it ties the network to the real world and effectively protects the network against state-level attacks.

Descending even deeper into the energy rabbit hole, one would find that Bitcoin mining is greener than one might have guessed: it is subsidizing green energy production facilities, and by capturing Methane near oil fields, Bitcoin mining could even become carbon-neutral. 

Besides this fundamental lack of understanding, sceptics of the Greenpeace campaign point to another reason why Greenpeace attacks Bitcoin: the campaign is funded by Bitcoin competitor Ripple (XRP)... 

Can we even change the code?

According to Greenpeace changing the Bitcoin code would come down to convincing around thirty people such as core developers, and big miners. This is not true though. Sure, it is theoretically possible that Bitcoin developers agree to 'change the code'. But the thousands of volunteers around the world that run Bitcoin nodes would also need to agree. That's highly unlikely. 

But didn't Ethereum just switch to proof-of-stake? True, but Ethereum was always intended to be a proof-of-stake network. It just started off as proof-of-work to get off the ground in a tried and tested way.

Greenpeace's misunderstanding goes even deeper. Anyone can fork their own version of Bitcoin. Instead of trying to convince Bitcoin to change, just go create your own Bitcoin Greenpeace Vision (BGV) and have it compete with Bitcoin on the free market!

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