Bill Gates Says Bitcoin Is Bad for the Planet. He’s Not Wrong.
The cryptocurrency "uses more electricity per transaction than any other method known to mankind," he says.
Bill Gates, fresh off making headlines for suggesting the world should eat 100 percent synthetic beef, is now beefing with a new target: bitcoin.
Gates, the Microsoft cofounder and chair of the investment fund Breakthrough Energy Ventures, recently said in a live-streamed Clubhouse session that bitcoin guzzles up a concerning amount of energy.
“Bitcoin uses more electricity per transaction than any other method known to mankind, and so it’s not a great climate thing,” Gates told CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin. (You can hear Gates’s comments on bitcoin starting around the 33-minute mark in the video below.)
In the broad sense, Gates isn’t making an especially egregious claim. A quick refresher: Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency—a shared, encrypted, publicly available form of money made by building links in a longer and longer blockchain code. Blockchain refers to the collective record (called a ledger) that stores cryptocurrency transactions, like a communal Excel spreadsheet.
This record is stored on volunteers’ computers, which run software that verifies transactions, checking to make sure that both parties agreed to the change and the buyer has enough currency to honor it. These volunteers are called miners, and the reward for volunteering their hardware is kickbacks in the form of more cryptocurrency.
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