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Mining bitcoin uses more energy than the country of Denmark: study

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Extracting a dollar’s worth of cryptocurrency such as bitcoin from the deep Web consumes three times more energy than digging up a dollar’s worth of gold, researchers said Monday.

There are now hundreds of virtual currencies and an unknown number of server farms around the world running around the clock to unearth them, more than half of them in China, according to a recent report from the University of Cambridge.

Mining virtual currencies with a real-world value, in other words, carries a hidden environmental cost that is rarely measured or taken into account.

“We now have an entirely new industry that is consuming more energy per year than many countries,” said Max Krause, a researcher at the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education and lead author of a study in the journal Nature Sustainability.

“In 2018, bitcoin is on track to consume more energy than Denmark,” he told AFP.

Denmark consumed 31.4 billion kilowatt hours in electricity in 2015. As of July 1 of this year, Bitcoin mining used up approximately 30.1 billion kilowatt hours, according to the study.

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The highly competitive practice of mining cryptocurrencies requires hundreds, even tens of thousands, of linked computers running intensive calculations in search of the Internet equivalent of precious metals.

New coins are awarded to those who complete calculations first, with the transaction confirmed and entered into the currency’s shared public ledger, known as the “blockchain”.

The top 100 cryptocurrencies have a current market value of about $200 billion (175 billion euros), according to the website coinmarketcap.com.

Bitcoin accounts for more than half of that amount.

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“We wanted to spread awareness about the potential environmental costs for mining cryptocurrencies,” Krause said.

– Digital is not cost-free

“Just because you are creating a digital product, that doesn’t mean it does not consume a large amount of energy to make it.”

The movies, music and videos that billions of people stream every day all have measurable environmental costs, earlier research has shown.

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For the study, Krause and Thabet Tolaymat, an environmental engineer based in Cincinnati, Ohio, calculated the average energy consumed to create one US dollar’s worth of four top virtual currencies — bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin and monero — over the 30-month period up to June 2018.

That amount was 17, 7, 7 and 14 million joules, or megajoules (MJ), respectively.

A joule is a unit of energy equivalent to the work required to produce one watt of power for one second.

That is up to three times the energy needed to excavate gold, platinum or copper, they found. Of the metals examined, only aluminium — at 122 MJ per dollar’s worth — was more energy intensive.

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A complete calculation of the environmental cost of virtual currencies would take into account the banks of computers used to mine them.

“The computers are made with gold and other precious metals,” said Krause.

“They are run aggressively, which means the hardware is destroyed much quicker than you or I would expect for regular use — maybe a year instead of five or ten.”

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‘Dangerous linguistic power’: A historian explains how Trump weaponizes nicknames

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Is Donald Trump the modern day Earl Long?

A three-time Louisiana governor, Long mastered the art of political ridicule seven decades ago by weaponizing nicknames. The hilarious names Long pinned on his rivals, and the rollicking stories he told about them, riveted audiences bored by puffed-up rhetoric.

While Long’s stunts may be remembered as silly hijinks, there was a sly, often deadly serious, purpose to his technique. He used it to get voters to laugh at his foes and to put them on the defensive––a place politicians never want to be. Tucked within Long’s jests were razor-sharp attacks aimed at exploiting opposition weaknesses––hidden swords inside a pea-patch cloak.

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Walmart got a $2.2 billion tax cut — now it’s laying off workers

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Walmart announced it will lay off hundreds of workers in North Carolina despite receiving billions in tax cuts that the Republican Party and President Trump claimed would spur job growth.

The giant retailer will lay off about 570 employees and close its corporate office near the Charlotte airport, despite signing a 12-year lease just four years earlier, the Charlotte Business Journal reported.

The work done at the Charlotte facility will be outsourced to a firm in Arkansas, according to the report.

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Amazon, Google and Facebook warrant antitrust scrutiny for many reasons – not just because they’re large

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There’s a growing chorus of U.S. politicians, antitrust scholars and consumer watchdogs calling for stricter antitrust treatment of Amazon, Google, Facebook and other tech giants. Some even say they should be broken up.

Most recently, U.S. lawmakers launched a sweeping review to determine if these companies have become so big and powerful that they are stifling competition and harming consumers, while federal regulators are also gearing up to take action.

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 ENOUGH IS ENOUGH 

Trump endorses killing journalists, like Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Online ad networks are now targeting sites that cover acts of violence against dissidents, LGBTQ people and people of color.

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