A recent article on the environmental impact of Greenidge’s Seneca Lake mining operation is one of many misleading publications on bitcoin.
It is with no hyperbole that I say the media industry has it out for Bitcoin. Whether it be for the massive engagement to be extracted from the buzzing digital asset keyword or a legitimate opinion on bitcoin mining, it appears that media outlets cannot help but exaggerate and hyperbolize comments on bitcoin.
Bitcoin Magazine’s Level 39 contributed an excellent piece that addressed the issues with this NBC article, and there were many.
Essentially, the NBC piece utilized a quote from a concerned citizen that was hyperbole.
What is particularly interesting is that there is no mention of Bitcoin in the infamous quote — almost as if the lake was simply being described as warm.
Of course, citizens have the right to be concerned about whatever they want, and there are indeed channels for voicing and acting on these concerns. However, as Level 39’s piece details, the actual warming of the lake as a result of the plant is quite literally nonexistent and there are multiple, complex factors the NBC article plainly ignores.
So, why would a media company publish a comment meant entirely as hyperbole in an attempt to frame a bitcoin mining plant in a negative light?
They Don’t Like Bitcoin Because They Don’t Understand It
Any amount of carbon or environmental impact generated as a result of bitcoin is too much if you don’t believe it is a worthy utilization of energy.
But in order to develop an opinion of whether or not bitcoin is a worthy utilization of energy, one must understand bitcoin, while many media companies clearly do not.
An excellent piece by Croesus_BTC details why educated people commonly not only misunderstand bitcoin but decide to actively dislike it. Allen Farrington adds onto this idea, stating, “But the gist of it is that people whose profession or primary intellectual pursuits consist of ‘wordsmithery’, as Nozick calls it — competitively putting forward essentially verbal arguments in the hope of enacting influence — seem inclined to find unfair and unjust a dynamic in which this gets you nowhere.”
When reading this, the media immediately came to mind. The media utilizes words and phrases in a verbal argument format in the hopes of enacting influence, this time on your opinion of bitcoin and its environmental impact.
Upon reckoning with the idea that this is futile in regards to bitcoin, the media is left with utilizing hyperbole and quotations from people who do not understand bitcoin.
Indeed, one example of an environmental activist who doesn’t understand bitcoin who is often cited in the media, Yvonne Taylor, stated, “We simply cannot allow this ludicrous scheme of burning fossil fuels to make fake money in the midst of climate change.”
Such a disrespectful characterization of a global monetary network designed to empower unbanked people should have been illuminated as such; instead, it became national media coverage of bitcoin.
This same activist is now referenced in the Greenidge Seneca piece, where she states, “These crypto operations are looking for anywhere that has relatively cheap power in a relatively cool climate … It’s a horrible business model for all of New York state, the United States and for the planet.”
In a separate piece, Taylor reiterates, “We’re talking about burning more fossil fuels to make fake money in the middle of climate change, which we view as insane.”
Insane their view of Bitcoin may be, but infringing upon the freedom to execute computer code in order to solve mathematical problems that reward you with bitcoin is far more insane.
Bitcoin utilizes energy in the process of mining; but this energy usage is justified through its abilities to protect, store and transfer the wealth of an entire civilization. Indeed, in Hass McCook’s “A Comparison of Bitcoin’s Environmental Impact With That of Gold and Banking,” the reality of bitcoin’s environmental impact is unveiled to be far less than that of both industries. It’s understandable to want to minimize environmental impact. The single most important way we can do this is to adopt a monetary standard which incentivizes long-term planning, coordination and saving.
The environmental impact of bitcoin has been proven to be negligible in comparison to global greenhouse gas emissions. So, regardless of how many times critics refer to bitcoin as “fake money,” the core of their view that it impacts climate change is categorically false and, “the equivalent of removing 2.25 drops from a one gallon jug, warming those drops by about 7 degrees Fahrenheit, adding them back to the jug each day and then claiming that they are causing the jug to feel too warm.”
We can characterize the media’s representation of Bitcoin as a misunderstanding, in the same way that telling a police officer you didn’t know it was against the law to drink and drive is a misunderstanding.
The media deliberately misleads people in regards to the environmental impacts of bitcoin because of their lack of understanding. Bitcoin Magazine never reports on ideas or topics we don’t understand fully — these media outlets cannot say the same.