Why Bitcoin’s pollution could grow after leaving China

Why Bitcoin’s pollution could grow after leaving China

Cryptocurrency mining rigs sit on three-storeys of racks inside the BitRiver Rus LLC cryptocurrency mining farm in Bratsk, Russia, on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. | Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg via Getty Images

China is cracking down on Bitcoin mining, and some experts fear that the cryptocurrency’s environmental footprint could become dirtier as a result.

Bitcoin is incredibly energy hungry. To create new coins, miners race to solve complex puzzles using specialized machines. As a result, Bitcoin is estimated to use as much electricity annually as the entire country of Poland. Until this year, a majority of that electricity came from a mix of coal and hydropower in China. Last week, China sounded the death knell for Bitcoin mining within its borders when it made all cryptocurrency transactions and mining illegal — although most mining operations fled earlier in the year when bans were announced in provinces where most had previously set up…

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