From Charles Hugh Smith's Of Two Minds blog:
Let's start with a primer on how to write a sensationalist story that can be passed off as "journalism:"Other Bitcoin and electricity posts:
1. Locate credible-sounding data that can be de-contextualized, i.e. sensationalized.
2. Present the data as "fact" rather than data that requires verification by disinterested researchers.
3. Exaggerate the data as much as possible and set the tone and context with emotionally laden words: "shocking," etc.
4. Select a context that sensationalizes the conclusion.
Now let's take a look at a story that has been swallowed whole, with little to no fact-checking or disinterested inquiry: bitcoin's electrical consumption, i.e. the electricity consumed by mining/maintaining bitcoin's blockchain.
One Bitcoin Transaction Now Uses as Much Energy as Your House in a Week
Let's start by stipulating that energy consumption is a consequential matter worthy of serious inquiry. It's important to measure the energy consumption of all the systems that operate within the current status quo, and compare the consumption levels of these systems.
With that in mind, let's take a look at the story.
Right off the bat, the context we're offered to grasp the enormity of bitcoin's mining consumption is the electrical consumption of Nigeria, a nation, we're breathlessly informed, with 186 million residents. Wow! That's a crazy amount of electrical consumption, right?
Let's do some very basic fact-checking before we accept sensationalist conclusions, shall we?
Nigeria consumes about 24 billion kWh annually, while the U.S. consumes 3,913 billion kWh annually.
So Nigeria uses 3/5th of 1% (0.6%) of the electricity the U.S. consumes.
Now let's compare that electrical consumption with the amount of electricity consumed in the U.S. by residential devices and chargers on stand-by, i.e. appliances, devices, chargers, gizmos, etc. that aren't in use and doing no work but that are still consuming electricity.
About a quarter of all residential energy consumption is used on devices in idle power mode, according to a study of Northern California by the Natural Resources Defense Council. That means that devices that are “off” or in standby or sleep mode can use up to the equivalent of 50 large power plants’ worth of electricity and cost more than $19 billion in electricity bills every year.
source: Just How Much Power Do Your Electronics Use When They Are ‘Off’? (May 7, 2016, New York Times)
(Please read the article to find out just how much power the 50+ gadgets in your home consume doing absolutely zero work.)
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, annual residential electrical consumption totals 1,410 billion kWh.
So 25% (the amount of household electricity consumed by stand-by devices) of 1,410 billion equals 352 billion kWh consumed annually by residential appliances and devices on stand-by in the U.S.......MUCH MORE
Heat Your House Mining Bitcoin!
Hey Mister Environmental, Social, Governance Investor: What the Hell Are You Doing In Bitcoin?
Convergence: "Bitcoin Mining in Electric Vehicles Raises Other Questions" (TSLA)—UPDATED