We need laws for Blockchains to publish their electricity consumption rates
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On the 8th March 2017 the Bitcoin network with its distributed and totally non-managed network - was consuming electricity at an astonishing rate of 10 Terra Watt Hours (TWh) per year which was close to the yearly energy consumption of Uruguay, a country with 3.3 million inhabitants. Within 9 months this consumption figure has now trebled to 30.23 TWh and has risen over 32% in the last month.
From early November 2017, the Bitcoin network was consuming more electricity than Nigeria, a country with a population of 186 million people. Blockchain and Bitcoin in particular is massively inefficient technology on a scale the world has never seen before. If Bitcoin could scale and match the 83.2 billion transactions that the Visa system processes in a year - it would currently require over 23 trillion kilowatt hours of electricity which is over 100% of the entire world's 2014 electricity production of 22 Trillion Kilowatt Hours. Visa processes around 25% of global electronic payments. Traditional electronic payment systems are hundreds of thousands of times more efficient than Bitcoin on a per transaction basis. A single Bitcoin transaction which is the equivalent of a single swipe of your Visa debit card in a supermarket - uses up an unbelievable 294 Kilowatt hours of electricity which is enough to power the average UK home for 23 days.
Unfortunately Bitcoin is just the first small chapter of this environmental disaster story quietly unfolding in the background. There are over 1300 cryptocurrencies now and more are being created everyday. Blockchain applications in general are proliferating at an alarming rate. Due to the unregulated and distributed nature of their physical and logical architectures, none of these largely pointless networks and applications are fit for the purposes they are claiming for themselves as their architectures cannot scale up to true Enterprise level requirements as handled by companies such as Visa, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, PayPal, EBay etc.
Distributed Blockchain networks are not properly managed or regulated and this makes them inherently inefficient. There are no legal requirements for them to systematically measure and record their energy consumption or even begin to attempt to take control over or reign in the unbelievable amounts of power they wastefully consume behind the scenes and for which they are not held accountable.
Fridge and freezer manufacturers are made by law to publish their energy efficiency, just as car manufacturers do. Car manufacturers are also forced to publish emission standards. Blockchain applications should similarly be legally required to measure, record and publish their full distributed power consumption figures of all the miners and associated equipment that constitute the blockchain network so that the very real environmental costs can be made abundantly clear to consumers before they think of financially backing such wasteful enterprises.
In view of the obscene energy consumption drain from mining cryptocurrencies, which can originate from countries with the cheapest and often dirtiest sources of energy in the world (notably China for Bitcoin) in addition to logging the energy consumption of all miners, Blockchain applications must also track where their miners are located in order to provide the clearest view possible of the sources of their energy consumption and their emission standards.
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