by Peter St. Onge
One popular critique of bitcoin is energy cost per transaction. This doesn’t begin to capture bitcoin’s massive energy savings compared to fiat currency.
Bitcoin’s cost per transaction is well known, and often critiqued; one article in Wired magazine called bitcoin “[a] big middle finger to earth’s climate.” This is because bitcoin’s security, redundancy, and architecture are more energy intensive than traditional payments relying on a single point of failure.
Comparing the energy of a single transaction barely scrapes the surface of the dollar’s carbon footprint, which includes the entire financial infrastructure supporting fiat—8.4 percent of GDP in the US alone, slightly behind manufacturing. This includes 80,000 bank branches, 470,000 ATMs in the US alone, and forests of skyscrapers towering over most cities on earth.