Jan 24, 2018 @ 11:11 AM How Big Is Blockchain’s Carbon Footprint? Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. Shutterstock What’s the carbon footprint of blockchain technology? originally appeared on Quora : the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world .
Answer by Michael Barnard , Low-carbon Innovation Strategist, on Quora : What’s the carbon footprint of blockchain technology? Dropping rapidly, believe it or not. Bitcoin is a bubble. There are three things which drive its absurd power use: artificial scarcity leading to many, many miners, it’s increasingly hard competition for the remaining few million coins and its proof-of-work approach to immutability and validity. There’s no inherent value in Bitcoin, it’s slow to transact and it’s expensive to transact. It will turn into a rarely turned over asset like fine art paintings in a specialty market, but will peak soon if it hasn’t already.
Proof-of-work is an already obsolete approach to the Byzantine Generals’ Problem. The Bitcoin problem, in other words is a multiplying problem: high energy to discover the solution * many, many people trying to discover the solution * proof-of-work. It’s inefficient and inelegant from a resources perspective, while being elegant as a first mover on the Byzantine Generals’ problem.
Ethereum is bubbly but its consumption is about to drop radically. It has been using proof-of-work, but is about to move to its Casper proof-of-stake model which will reduce mining competition and the like substantially.
Ethereum’s electricity consumption will drop by orders of magnitude. Casper will be a hard fork so while the old stuff will still be around, its problems will become more and more apparent. There will be a lot of secondary coins created on the Ethereum model which won’t follow the hard fork, but they are also secondary consumers. NEO and Hyperledger are next-generation with even lower electricity costs and attendant carbon footprints.
NEO uses delegated Byzantine Fault Tolerance (dBFT) which is an even more optimized proof-of-stake. It mostly randomly gives miners with high stakes in NEO the right to generate the next block, hence the delegation. This is much lower energy and allows higher transaction volumes as well. Hyperledger Fabric centralizes block creation into a single resource pool and has multiple validators in the participants. Validation is much easier than creation, and creation will be centralized on a single, optimized platform.
It’s also not a crypto platform although VIVA did that. It’s an enterprise collaboration engine, using blockchain smart contracts and an externalized payment system where that’s necessary, allowing variants of net 30 terms most crypto smart contracts don’t support. So all of the hysteria about cryptocurrency energy use is going to go away in the next few months.
The bubble will pop for stale assets like bitcoin, places like China will clamp down on wasting electricity on competitive mining and everybody else will move to variants of proof-of-stake or perhaps IOTA which seems to dodge the bullet in a different way.
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