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A single BitCoin transaction uses as much electricity as your home for a week.

Just as I predicted several years ago, we have seen billions won and lost in a gamble on volatile prices of BitCoin, without really understanding BitCoin limitations.

Here are some facts about BitCoin that will limit its future:

- BitCoins are made by solving a complex digital puzzle

- BitCoins have no actual value – the price people are willing to pay is based on what people think they may be worth in future

- It takes a lot of computing power to create them – and computers

- It takes 94,000 kw hours at the time of writing to produce a single BitCoin

* "How AI Will Change Your Life - A Futurist's Guide to a Super-Smart World" - Patrick Dixon's latest book on AI is published in September 2024 by Profile Books.  It contains 38 chapters on the impact of AI across different industries, government and our wider world, including the impact of AI on energy consumption globally, banking, payment systems including BitCoin.

Bitcoin “mining” uses more power globally a year than 159 of the world's nations 

- That’s more power on this experiment last year than 2 billion of the poorest people used – 1 billion of which have no access to a national grid

- An act of insanity in our climate emergency in a race towards zero carbon

- Consumption is already equivalent to 25% of the UK’s entire energy output

- Also equivalent to entire power use by 4.3 million homes across America

- That’s the same as 24 megatons of carbon dioxide or 1.2 million transatlantic flights

A single BitCoin transition uses as much energy as your home in a week

- A single BitCoin transaction, logged in a BlockChain, burns up as much energy as your home for a week – so forget about using BitCoins as a global day-to-day currency

- If BitCoin mining and transactions continued to grow at the frenetic pace they did in 2017-2019, the total power consumed would be more than the entire world uses today for all of human existence, by 2022

- Millions of computers have been hijacked by Bitcoin miners to create more Bitcoins for free – slowing the processors down and running up extra power bills

- Bitcoins are fixed in number and as each of the remaining Bitcoins are found, the complexity of the puzzle increases even more to find the rest

- The limited number of Bitcoins, and the potentially unlimited ways in which they might be used in future, led to a frenzy of speculative investment, and then to catastrophic losses

- Although BitCoin transactions are in theory recorded forever on a BlockChain register, BitCoin trading exchanges have been hacked with losses of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Most bitcoin transactions are to fund criminal activity

It is astonishing that so much of the world’s energy has been wasted on an experiment to produce digital tokens that no one in the world knows the real value of.

What is more, such tokens are used today mainly by criminals to pay for drugs, arms, assassinations or by ordinary people to pay ransom when kidnapped or blackmailed.  

Considering all the global challenges we face, and their urgency, and considering a billion are hungry or lack clean water, mining BitCoins hardly justifies the amount of carbon dioxide produced, even if people can afford to do it.

So here is the question, given that there are many ways of paying for things in the world, and BitCoin is just about the most expensive, wasteful and inefficient, and prices are so volatile because based on no real asset, why would we attempt to build a global payments system on them?

Future of Blockchain 

So what of BlockChain, which has been widely praised as the answer to all kinds of secure record systems – whether for large bank payments, logistics and supply chains, recording real estate transactions and so on.  

BlockChain is just an ultra-ledger, originally designed to support BitCoin and other currencies.  

What is the point of a secure currency if you cannot record safely which coins have transferred ownership?

The trouble is that BlockChain is also affected by similar huge energy consumption challenges, and this is likely to be the case for some years to come.

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