In Uninhabitable Earth, David Wallace-Wells notes Bitcoin's huge energy footprint ("more electricity than is generated by all the world’s solar panels combined") and asserts that

a simple change to the algorithm could eliminate that Bitcoin footprint entirely

Is this true? My understanding of Bitcoin mining is that it must, of necessity, be extremely computationally expensive, and therefore also extremely energetically expensive.

Is there, in fact a change ("simple" or otherwise) that could dramatically reduce Bitcoin's energy footprint, while still preserving its essential computational complexity?

  • 3
    Bitcoin's energy consumption is because it is a "proof of work" based crypto-currency. There are others which do not use proof of work, but it is a handy way to make it hard to fake. Of course, you could agree an algorithm change - there have been forks in the past - but then you lose the proof of work. To be honest, it has been proven to be so insecure so far, the best bet would be to remove it and use any of the other cryptocurrencies :-) You should ask this over on the Bitcoin Stack Exchange site - you can get vast amounts of detail there :-)
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented May 3, 2019 at 19:35
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    My close vote is that this isn't notable - nobody is challenging it. It's just how cryptocurrencies are built.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented May 3, 2019 at 19:37
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    @RoryAlsop "A claim is 'notable' when a significant number of people believe it is true." By that criteria, this claim is notable. The questioner is not required to find people who are questioning the claim. Your first comment looks a lot like an unreferenced answer in the comments. skeptics.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2506/… Commented May 3, 2019 at 23:44
  • 4
    You won't get good answers here. Read and ask on bitcoin.stackexchange.com.
    – user11643
    Commented May 4, 2019 at 16:16
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    There's also the point that, due to the decentralized nature of Bitcoin, anyone could make such a change, but nobody could force other users to adopt the change. Commented May 5, 2019 at 3:49


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