Start writing a post

Do large corporations need to be more open about their energy consumption and how it is sourced?

Just as we might now wish to see how the food we eat has been farmed or sourced ethically, sustainably, and is of a high standard, perhaps we should also consider whether the world's large energy consumers are held to the same measure.

Do large corporations need to be more open about their energy consumption and how it is sourced?
woman holding two round gold-colored coins

Last month, Elon Musk offered a $100m prize in relation to a Carbon Capture Contest. This would seem to be perfectly understandable, considering the 'sustainability' image he has built around the Tesla brand.

What has caused a contradictory ripple to this image is the recent announcement from Tesla that they have acquired around $1.5bn of that 'fearful beast' that is Bitcoin and preparing to take payments for their vehicles with Bitcoin.


To those uninitiated in the workings of Bitcoin, it might seem odd how these two seemingly unrelated events could possibly cause controversy.

Other than the fact that Elon Musk seems to revel in stirring up these types of discussions. I suppose this is probably a cheaper and more sustainable method of garnering media attention - at least when compared to that of flying a hot air balloon around the world a few times.

The issue here is not purchasing such a vast amount of Bitcoins; the problem is how Bitcoins are 'mined.'

Without going into too much detail, quite frankly, it is something that still burns my withering synapses. All you need to know is that to 'mine' a Bitcoin, a computer(s) with a very powerful processor is required to carry out the 'Proof-of-Work' calculations.

It takes around 10 minutes for such a high spec machine to mine one Bitcoin, which, when broken down into a 600-second slice, will take approximately 72,000 GW (Gigawatts) of power to mine a single Bitcoin.

72,000 GW sounds like a high exclamation. Besides, I find that large numbers are a bit rubbish in expressing the reality of things.

Big tech companies manipulate our behaviors. Can we control them?


Big tech companies manipulate our behaviors. Can we control them? conversations.indy100.com


We need to decide how we let technology platforms influence us

Therefore to put this into context, the average UK domestic household uses a little over 3900 kWh per year. By my rudimentary Maths, that is equivalent to almost 20,000 domestic supplies. It sounds like an utterly insane amount of power.

While newer technology cryptocurrencies, Elrond, for example, have far more efficient and modern processes. This cannot detract from the enormous amount of energy that has been consumed to mine the existing 18.5bn Bitcoins currently in circulation.

It could be argued that it seems even more ridiculous when there is no 'physical' end product at the end of each 'mining' process.

And it is pretty outrageous when you think about it. You could argue that any of the work that Tesla is doing to reduce carbon emissions is easily outweighed by the vast amount of energy required to mine $1.5bn dollars worth of Bitcoin (around 480 Bitcoins).

That said, Bitcoin is not the only suspect in this area, as it is the vast computational power required to complete the Proof-of-Work process for each Bitcoin. Many other businesses are utilising even bigger computers to calculate even more complex processes.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is growing around us in a world that was also not achieved without a cost.

For example, a recent story whereby an AI researcher working for Google (Timnit Gebru) claims that she lost her job over writing a research paper that included how much computing power is used to power Google's machine learning algorithms.

Suppose we stop considering how many inputs and searches Google processes, or more importantly, ingests, across the world, every day. I would dare to suggest that we are probably looking at Terawatts worth of energy being used per transaction, opposed to the Gigawatts' worth of energy burned mining a single Bitcoin.

To be clear, I am not looking to argue that either is preferable. All I am suggesting is when it comes to what is deemed 'sustainable'.

Realistically it will almost always be overruled by commercial profit just because Google or Bitcoin miners do not have vast plumes of smoke choking their immediate neighbourhoods. All around, there are hundreds of power stations doing that very same thing.

Just as we might now wish to see how the food we eat has been farmed or sourced ethically, sustainably, and is of a high standard, perhaps we should also consider whether the world's large energy consumers are held to the same measure.

After all, no matter what individual efforts we make to become more sustainable, our carbon footprint would fit in the small toe of these corporate energy companies several thousand times over.

Have you got something to say about this subject? Submit a post here and start the conversation.

people laughing and talking outside during daytime

As COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease, many are facing the anxiety of re-entering into society. Over the last year, we've been obligated to remain asocial, and as a result, many of us (myself included) are finding human interaction painfully awkward.

For as long as I can remember, making friends was never a difficult feat to accomplish. To my friends and family, I've always been the most outgoing and bubbly person in the room. While that remains to be true, lately I've found social interactions to be challenging and somewhat strained. Thankfully, now that I'm fully vaccinated, I've been venturing into the real world more frequently.

Keep reading... Show less

Misogyny is a destructive knotweed among queer men

Progress for the LGBT+ community isn't on the cards until we address the virulent creeper in the room.

When it comes to gay and bi men's mental health, one of the biggest stumbling blocks we face is internalised homophobia and biphobia – likely from an early adoption of toxic behaviours picked up in the playground and carried on into adulthood.

Alexander Leon stated on Twitter recently that 'Queer people don't grow up as ourselves, we grow up playing a version of ourselves that sacrifices authenticity to minimise humiliation and prejudice. The massive task of our adult lives is to unpick which parts of ourselves are truly us and which parts we've created to protect us."

Keep reading... Show less
#StartTheConversation by joining us on
x

Join our new platform for free and your post can reach a huge audience on Indy100 and The Independent join