As Bitcoin surpasses previous price records and re-enters mainstream consciousness following several wilderness years, the twelve-year-old cryptocurrency appears to have “arrived” in the eyes of the market. The value proposition of an ungoverned, uncensorable digital means of value transfer is clear for all to see…but can humanity and Earth afford the thermodynamic price tag?
To maintain the integrity of the transaction record, the Bitcoin network creates a hard boundary to the outside through exacting validation requirements. However it does not possess any feedback mechanism or capacity to respond to the consequences of the thermoeconomic challenges it issues. This insensitivity of ‘mined’ cryptocurrencies to the energy sources used to secure them has led to criticism as to their inability to mitigate their ecological externalities.