Re: [CFRG] Bitcoin delenda est. Was: Escalation: time commitment to fix *production* security bugs for BLS RFC v4?

Mike Hamburg <> Mon, 26 April 2021 20:12 UTC

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From: Mike Hamburg <>
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Date: Mon, 26 Apr 2021 17:12:37 -0300
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Cc: Kyle Rose <>, "" <>, "Salz, Rich" <>
To: Michael Sierchio <>
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Subject: Re: [CFRG] Bitcoin delenda est. Was: Escalation: time commitment to fix *production* security bugs for BLS RFC v4?
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> On Apr 26, 2021, at 3:42 PM, Michael Sierchio <> wrote:
> On Mon, Apr 26, 2021 at 11:03 AM Kyle Rose < <>> wrote:
> On Mon, Apr 26, 2021 at 1:29 PM Phillip Hallam-Baker < <>> wrote:
> As a human being living on a planet threatened by environmental damage from CO2 emissions, I am strongly opposed to any IETF work to support any form of purported 'cryptocurrency' that relies on any form of 'proof of work' or 'proof of waste'. 
> The electricity requirements of cryptocurrencies have been larger than that of entire countries. This is an experiment that it is time to stop.
> This massively overstates the impact of mining.
> Total worldwide energy use per year is ~160,000 TWh.[1]
> The total worldwide consumption of energy in the form of electricity is 40,443 billion kWh / y.  About 1/4 of the total.

Do you have a source on that?  According to e.g. <>, that’s the projection for 2040, not 2021.  The 2017 values were 25,679 TWh, so more like 1/6th of the total.  This would place Bitcoin at about 0.45% of worldwide electricity consumption: not a huge fraction, but a huge amount in absolute terms, especially considering that it has yet to provide any real value to the world.  Also note that there are ~195 countries in the world, depending how you count, so this is almost the mean electricity consumption of an entire country; in Bitcoin's case, it is approximately the same as Norway.

Also, these consumption figures are only for Bitcoin.  Ethereum, the #2 cryptocurrency by market cap, draws another ~39 TWh/year, about a third of what Bitcoin uses.  They say they’re eventually moving to proof of stake, but I haven’t seen any news that the move is imminent.  Then there’s the rest of the cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin and Ethereum are only half the world market cap, according to <>, but I don’t have figures on energy consumption.  In any case, it’s plausible that cryptocurrency amounts to 1% of human electricity consumption (but not overall energy consumption).

Furthermore, if Bitcoin or Ethereum were to achieve widespread adoption, then its value would likely increase because so little extra bitcoin can be mined.  This is why people speculate on it.  But since mining energy consumption is closely tied to the value of the currency, this would incentivize miners to increase their energy consumption proportionally.

I’m no fan of Bitcoin or other proof-of-work systems, and I would rather not work on them, but I don’t have any objection to fixing BLS draft specs.  I just wanted to correct some apparent mistakes in the thread.

— Mike