Does Bitcoin Use "Too Much" Electricity?


US senator Elizabeth Warren claimed last week that bitcoin uses too much electricity. In doing so, she makes a judgment about the "correct" amount of electricity use. But it raises the question of who is entitled to make such a judgment.

It’s fine for Warren to judge for herself, but it’s not fine for her to try to foist that opinion on others through government force or coercion.

A follow-up question from a decent reporter might be, “Is there really not enough available energy?”

At least two centuries of oil exist underground at current levels of usage. It’s not a question of whether it exists; it’s a question of how costly it is to get to. Uranium supplies will last longer than that.

Energy is abundant and easy to provide in a free-market environment. However, a free market environment can be hard to come by, for the government won’t let a free market for energy exist. Governments around the world are so eager to control energy generation and distribution that the mechanism of supply and demand can’t do its job. Instead, we are left with a bunch of impractical government stipulations by know-it-all politicians and bureaucrats.

Clearly, whoever makes such a decision about whether there is enough energy is operating from a mindset of artificial scarcity.

With unlimited sunlight, nearly unlimited uranium and similar substances, and many years of petroleum, any argument that there is not enough energy is misguided at best. In a marketplace, there would never be such a worry as “Is there enough?” There would instead be a question of “How much exists at what price?” The marketplace handles scarcity well. It is the government that imposes artificial barriers on the handling of such needs as energy to fuel economic development.

No one is saying Facebook uses too much energy, yet it has more than a billion people using its network each day. There are, in contrast, thousands of computers operating on the bitcoin network at any given moment.

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