Mining Bitcoin is 3.5 times more expensive than digging up gold

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Bitcoin (CRYPTO: BTC) fans have often spruiked the cryptocurrency as a store of value when other assets like stocks and real estate experience turmoil.

This is a role traditionally played by gold for many centuries.

“Among retail investors, it is increasingly seen as a ‘safe haven’ asset, similar to gold,” DeVere Group CEO Nigel Green said.

But one concern that has become prominent in recent years is the amount of computing power required to mine new Bitcoins.

Mining involves solving extremely complicated mathematical calculations on very powerful computers. This requires an enormous amount of energy, both to power the computers and to house them.

Some Bitcoin mining data centers are deliberately located in cold places like Siberia to use less energy to cool the data centers.

All of this leads to the question of the environmental impact of creating new currencies.

Not a physical asset but has physical impacts

In response, Bitcoin bulls have always argued that gold mining comes at a higher environmental cost.

Obviously, the gold has to be physically discovered, then dug up from the ground and processed.

But now it seems that the argument is on shaky ground.

A new study has shown how generating Bitcoin consumes more energy than mining the same value of gold out of the ground

According to the Bankless Times, mining $1 worth of Bitcoin uses 17 megajoules of energy, while mining the same value of gold costs 5MJ.

“Although both assets consume quite a bit of energy, Bitcoin consumption is comparatively higher as the network still needs electricity to complete transactions and continue to function,” the Times reported.

Cryptocurrency fares even worse when the impact translates to carbon footprint.

“Following the increase in the number of users, the carbon footprint of Bitcoin is currently about 15 times that of gold,” stated the Bankless Times.

“Mining 1 Bitcoin emits about 191 tons of carbon dioxide, while mining 1 Bitcoin worth of gold emits about only 13 tons.”

What exactly does 191 tons of carbon dioxide mean?

According to the Times, that’s the same amount of carbon released as 1.6 million visa inc (NYSE:V) proceedings.

China’s Crypto Ban Made Bitcoin Even Dirtier

As environmental concerns about Bitcoin mining became public, some industry players took steps to address the issue.

Many have promised to use only renewable energy sources to power computers.

But the ban on cryptocurrencies in China last year was a major setback in this movement.

“Before the ban, miners in China used hydroelectric power to mine Bitcoins, especially during the rainy season,” the Times stated.

“This helped a lot to keep Bitcoin mining green.”