Bitcoins are the virtual currency that have been garnering a lot of media attention since their inception in 2009. Not only have they attracted attention, they have also increase greatly in value thanks to speculation and talk of a new global currency. Now though, a new issue has presented itself, the fact that “mining” the currency is actually intensive enough to pose a threat to the environment in the real world.
Mining for the coins is a process that involves solving processor-intensive equations. This process is intensive for a reason – it reduces the chances of flooding the market with currency, and therefore devaluing it. As more miners come onto the scene, the processing power required to retrieve the coins from a digital mine also increases, further controlling supply and demand.
It’s easy to think computer processing equations is only intensive for the computer, but even so this process requires electricity to work. Electricity that is often running powerful and specialised machines which use far more than the average desktop.
The cost of mining Bitcoins today was $157,000 according to Blockchain, with profits being just over $200,000. So while the profits may be healthy, the impact is apparent and whether or not it is sustainable as interest in the virtual currency grows is the real question.