Blockchain may be swimming into the mainstream with the force of a torpedo, but there are dams standing in the way. Among the biggest is its impact on the climate. Take a look at cryptocurrency mining—one of the most widely used consensus mechanisms for determining how blockchain ledgers are written. It’s a greenhouse-gas giant that won’t stop growing.
As the industry burgeons, Congress is finally discussing regulation: Capitol Hill held its first session on the topic last month, and a Thursday hearing at the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, titled “Cleaning Up Cryptocurrency,” hauled in mining and data executives, a utilities expert, a technology professor, and a former Treasury officer to prod the issue from all sides.
At the heart of the matter are two questions: Why does crypto eat so much carbon, and how can we lower its appetite?
Here, some context.
Much conversation swirls around “proof of work,” which refers to the consensus mechanism for many…