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Bitcoin: The Dirty Business of Clean Energy
Gone are the days of "Show me the money!"
This is the second in a two parts series. You can read the first about nickel here
You can listen to me reading this essay here.
Since publishing this essay last night, I’ve been made aware of 8 confirmed suicides connected with the downfall of Luna and Terra. I recognize that my perspective isn’t always the popular one and many will resist what I have written here. But truth is never popular. It makes one uncomfortable. It sears the soul.
My heart goes out to those who put their trust in a new kind of “money” and the “gurus” who promote it. My prayer is that people will read (or listen) to what I’ve written with an open mind, and these words will plant a seed of reflection that will lead to action.
“I have to go to the toilet,” I tell Ma urgently after dinner.
“You have to go in the woods.”
“Anywhere you can find. Wait, I’ll get you some toilet paper.” Ma goes away and comes back with a bunch of paper sheets in her hand. My eyes widen in disbelief, “Ma! It’s money. I can’t use money!”
“Use it, it is of no use to us anymore.”
― Loung Ung, First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers
It is quite possible that the words of “Ma,” said during the genocide under the regime of Pol Pot, will soon become true for us all.
Who uses cash anymore? For most people, the reasoning behind giving up cash is convenience. It’s so much easier to allow AI to take care of absolutely everything in the ether.
Gone are the days of
People might wonder what in the world Bitcoin has to do with my first essay on nickel. Well, the process of minting new Bitcoins is in some ways reminiscent of the process of extracting metals from the earth. Bitcoin miners like taking over abandoned mines as they are often in wide-open spaces and near water or other energy sources. For these reasons, it has come to be known as 'bitcoin mining.'
Bitcoin began as a “utopian, libertarian dream, a decentralized currency outside the control of governments, a system that gives its users the anonymity of cash and the instant, global power of email.” It was created by a mysterious programmer whose vision was to build a system that was not only convenient but that robbed the global financial elite, or the New World Order, of its power over the individual.
But before we can fully appreciate the eerie, Matrix-like world of Bitcoin, we must look at what it actually is and the cult surrounding it. The juxtaposition between its faithful followers that Bitcoin will literally save the world and the dirty secret of Bitcoin’s massive power consumption and resulting pollution can be hard to fathom.
So, what is Bitcoin mining exactly?
Here is a brief overview from Bitcoin.com:
People compete to earn bitcoin rewards by applying computing power in a process known as 'Proof of Work' (PoW). The process is named such because only participants (miners) who have proven they've dedicated sufficient resources (work) will have a chance at winning the rewards.
Approximately every 10 minutes, rewards are distributed to a single winning 'miner.'
Rewards are twofold: (1) the 'block reward,' which is newly minted bitcoin. The block reward is currently set at 6.25 bitcoins (but will be cut in half from early May 2024, then cut in half again four years later and so on). (2) the fees associated with all transactions in the current block. End users wishing to make a transaction must attach a fee to the proposed transaction as incentive for miners to include it in the next block.
To ensure its scarcity, and value, there are a limited number of Bitcoins in circulation. As of today, there are about 18 million and only 21 million will ever be created.
Mining for bitcoin is a race to see who can solve the mathematical problem first so the more computers working as fast as they can, the better the chances of being the winner. This requires enormous amounts of energy.
“If Bitcoin were a country, it would rank in the top 30 worldwide for energy use. That’s roughly enough electricity to power countries with populations in the tens of millions, with an environmental burden of an estimated 34 megatons of carbon emissions or more,” according to Digiconomist’s Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index.
“We actually see Bitcoin becoming less green than ever before,” says Alex de Vries, lead author of an analysis published in the journal Joule. That directly counters continued claims by industry groups that renewable energy would clean up Bitcoin’s operations.
So how did Bitcoin come into existence?
At the risk of sounding like a heretic and having a bunch of people unsubscribe, I can’t resist making a comparison between the way people speculate about who founded QAnon and the mystery shrouding the founder of Bitcoin. A shadowy figure by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto is credited with penning the original Bitcoin whitepaper and with inventing Bitcoin itself, minting the first Bitcoin. This person (or group of persons) remained elusively in the shadows, offering advice to followers in cryptic messages like a guru communicating from the cloud. The last correspondence with Nakamoto was in 2010, in an email to another crypto developer saying that he/they had (cryptically) "moved on to other things."
Investopedia noted that: “It is estimated that the value of bitcoins under Nakamoto's control—which is thought to be about 1 million in number—may exceed $50 billion in value. Given that the maximum possible number of bitcoins generated is 21 million, Nakamoto's stake of 5% of the total bitcoin holdings has considerable market power.”
Bitcoin enthusiasts speak of the cryptocurrency and its founder in almost messianic terms. It is seen as the antithesis of the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) governments are hellbent on ushering in. Certain buzzwords are repeated– decentralization, frictionless, borderless, equitable, democratization.
But how do these words translate into reality? Not very well.
A war is being waged between government control and free market. Who will win and when it comes to Bitcoin, is one really better than the other?
You could say that the two top Prophets of Bitcoin are Jack Dorsey and Michael Saylor.
“Bitcoin changes absolutely everything,” Dorsey said, back in June 2021. “I don’t think there is anything more important in my lifetime to work on.”
Recently, Dorsey left Twitter to devote his life to Square, or what is now known as Block. In a move that shows his lighter side, Dorsey says he is not the CEO, but the “Block Head.” Dorsey and Block deserve an entire essay all to themselves. It’s a fascinating duo and I cannot delve into it as deeply as it deserves here.
Within Block is a developer platform focused on Bitcoin called TBD54566975, or TBD. Naturally, the name itself set off a flurry of speculation within the Bitcoin community. What does it mean, everyone wanted to know? Theories abounded. Suffice it to say, this fed into the mystique already surrounding Bitcoin.
If you want to find out more about TBD, you can read Chris Concannon's explanation about it. Basically, what TBD wants to do is to empower us all to reclaim our identities from the evil empires of Facebook, Google and the like. It should be noted that the methods described for accomplishing this are identical to what governments, and ultimately, the New World Order wants to do with CBDCs. The difference being that the NWO wants your identity under its control, while Bitcoin claims it wants to give it back to you.
It’s impossible to tell if Dorsey really believes what he said about Bitcoin at the B Word Conference:
“It’s deeply principled, it’s weird as hell [and] it’s always evolving. It just reminded me of the internet as a kid.”
“My hope is that it creates or helps create world peace. It’s going to be long-term, but my hope is definitely peace.”
We all know what happened to the internet. It got taken over by the power hungry who now own our data, influence our very thoughts and are well on the way to owning our bodies and our minds as well.
Perhaps Dorsey’s company is really a front for government control with the purpose of luring the unsuspecting public even further into their trap. If you balk at my suggestion, then you really haven’t been paying attention over the past two years. Please let’s stop being gullible and let’s start questioning everything. It’s embarrassing how easily the public have been roped into believing that billionaires, governments and big pharma have their best interests at heart—as they bleed each one of us dry both literally and figuratively, laughing in our faces as they do so.
“Bitcoin is elegantly engineered to overcome the limitations of gold.” - Michael Saylor
Saylor is an MIT graduate and the cofounder and CEO of the business intelligence firm MicroStrategy. He calls Bitcoin “freedom,” and “the most universally desirable property in space and time.” Described as a “bitcoin evangelist,” at Bitcoin Miami, 2022, he instructed thousands of cheering fans to never sell their crypto.
I don’t know. As I researched this, it began to sound a bit like a crazed gambling addiction to me. It has all the signs. The game of chance, the incredible highs and lows, the obsessive way it takes over people’s lives and their subsequent denial that it is doing so. I’ve never been a gambler myself. My first experience of Las Vegas was flying there years ago to take my Black Belt Test with the National Tango Soo Do Congress, founded by Chuck Noris and Pat Johnson. I will never forget how shocked I was to see how the minute people got off the plane in Las Vegas they changed from ordinary folks to frenzied gamblers. Even the airport was lined with slot machines where people sat hypnotically putting in their coins and pulling the lever, over and over again.
Here are some examples of how people talk about Bitcoin from a discussion on Reddit:
“People who use it kind of remind me of cult members. (myself included).”
“Im addicted to F5’ing reddit and checking bitcoinwisdom every second of every minute of every hour of every week of every day of every year.”
“I stopped posting on Facebook about it so I wouldn’t bug my friends/family.”
“It’s a drug I just don’t want to kick, though.”
“You could replace the words ‘digital currency’ with ‘crack cocaine,’ ‘methamphetamine,’ ‘marijuana,’ [or] ‘gambling’ and you’ll see some of those same kind of ways people talk about it,” Dr. Timothy Fong, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), tells the Daily Dot.
If the Bitcoin craze can be likened to a gambler’s frenzy then Michael Saylor is one of the biggest gamblers of all. He’s borrowed millions from banks to add more of the cryptocurrency to MicroStrategy’s balance sheet.
As the bottom falls out of the market, just today Saylor tried to defuse fears over MicroStrategy margin call.
I’m not sure what his fans think of him now. As of May 12, 2022, Forbes announced that Saylor had fallen from billionaire status thanks to the crypto plunge. Shares of MicroStrategy are down more than 61% in the last month, including nearly 30% in the last two days. Bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency, has fallen 38%. The tweet below is from a couple of days ago, and it’s gotten worse since then.
So, now that we know a little bit more about Bitcoin’s history and its cult-like status, let’s look at the dirty secret of bitcoin mining.
Just as advocates of electric vehicles claim they will save the planet while they’re actually make the planet dirtier, it’s no different with Bitcoin miners.
Like nickel mining, the environmental impacts are being disregarded. Rivers are being drained and destroyed for hydropower and the greenhouse gas emissions of producing the electricity, either by hydropower or fossil fuels, are being ignored.
It wasn’t long ago that over 70% of all bitcoin mines were located in China. And then, as of July 2021, China shut down all the mines, according to data compiled by the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Alternative Finance. “Crypto mining is an extremely harmful industry that jeopardizes China's pursuit of carbon neutrality,” explained Meng Wei, spokesperson for China's National Development and Reform Commission, a macroeconomic planning agency.
Up until that point, just as we saw with nickel mining, virtuous Western Bitcoin miners never complained about China’s lax regulations. Gurus like Dorsey and Saylor who promised a better more egalitarian world thanks to Bitcoin ignored the hard cold realities of pollution. It was all hidden away conveniently in China.
In 2016, Chinese photographer Liu Xingzhe spent time in China’s bitcoin mines and with the computer hackers themselves, who spent weeks at a time isolated in the farthest reaches of the Himalayas where mines have been built to exploit Tibet’s hydropower, the cheapest electricity in the world. Here are some of the photos:
China might have claimed it shut down the mines to save the environment, but as NewsBTC reported: “As for the possible reasons, Bitcoin Magazine’s Lucas Nuzzi cites the upcoming Digital Yuan CBDC.” And Nuzzi said, “They’re literally rolling out their own coin (a CBDC) that will enable the mass surveillance and unbanking of dissidents.”
Argentina has also banned Bitcoin. The announcement came after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a $45B loan facility for Argentina. The catch? The country would discourage the use of cryptocurrencies. It’s clear that the New World Order will enslave countries to do their bidding through loans, as they have always done.
Did the Chinese mines shut down? Of course not. They just moved elsewhere. The United States now accounts for 30% of all Bitcoin mining—all while warning its citizens that they will have to sacrifice energy use for the sake of saving the planet.
As just one example of many, in 2019, Beijing-based company Bitmain, the world’s largest maker of bitcoin-mining computers, moved its operations into an old aluminum plant in Rockdale, Texas.
Advocates try to justify the mines by saying that their energy consumption is no different than, say, a company like Amazon. That’s a terrible argument.
Amazon Web Services is the biggest cloud-computing provider in America and its carbon footprint is huge. It has over a million customers and is supported by more than 50 data centers across the world. Each of those centers consumes about as much power as a small town.
Where does it end? Imprinted in my mind is the dystopian image of all these computers, endless rows upon rows of them, giant fans blowing to keep the temperatures down, guzzling water, forever calculating mathematical equations, day and night, while scores of people frantically try to beat one another by adding more and more computers with higher energy use, going faster and faster. Just the noise itself has been likened to a gigantic dentist’s drill, driving anyone within its vicinity insane.
The hypocritical “green” fantasists will never achieve what they claim they want because their desire to get richer is stronger than their lame virtue-signaling cries to save the planet.
But there’s still one more dirty secret.
Despite the buzz words like decentralization, and Dorsey’s claims that Bitcoin will usher in equality and world peace, Bitcoin is no different from any other industry that is controlled by the top 1%.
A recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that the top players represent a mere 0.01% of all bitcoin holders and yet they control 27% of the digital currency. That means that things haven’t changed since the days of the old-fashion dollar, where the top 1% controlled 30% of total U.S. household wealth.
Creating a better world isn’t about resolving the conflict between decentralization and centralization. Rather, it’s about morality in governance. If we had leaders operating from a position of integrity and truth—that actually put people first, not their own greed—we would have a starting point from which to solve these problems. As it is, we will never find any answers because we refuse to address the root cause.
No “system” can fix our basic human flaws.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, in collaboration with MIT, is currently designing a CBDC prototype. Ultimately, the technology underlying CBDCs will be Blockchain, the technology that enables Bitcoin.
So, we come back to Jack Dorsey and Michael Saylor. What are they really up to? Is Block a company we can put our trust in that wants to save us from the New World Order? Or is it a cover to ease people into accepting a worldwide CBDC?
I know what I think, and I would be interested to hear your thoughts as well.
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