In 2016, bitcoin was irrefutably a man’s domain. At the time, only 1.76% of the bitcoin community consisted of women, while male counterparts made up 98.24%. But the times they are a-changin’. According to a report by CoinMaketCap, the number of women in the cryptocurrency industry increased by 43.24% in the first quarter of 2020, and the number is actively rising. As more women enter the crypto space, the need for environmentally conscious bitcoin mining practices is growing.
Here’s why. Bitcoin production is currently estimated to generate between 22 and 22.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year. That’s about the same amount of emissions produced by the countries of Jordan and Sri Lanka. And it’s no secret that climate change impacts women more than men. Eighty percent of people displaced by climate change are women. In the same vein, it just so happens that some of the regions hit hardest by natural disasters, drought, and displacement are experiencing significant growth in women working in crypto.
Take the Middle East and North Africa, the most water stressed region in the world, for example. Women in Iran, such as crypto trader and investment advisor, Narges Moradabadi, are sharing their analyses and encouraging more women to dive into cryptocurrency. In Lebanon, people are increasingly turning to crypto as a means of gaining financial freedom through crypto-remittances. Amid the country’s economic turmoil, single mothers and women whose husbands have left Lebanon to find work, have begun trading.
Across different parts of Africa, where people are facing high levels of unemployment and poverty, the global peer-to-peer marketplace, Paxful, is seeing a steady rise in the number of women participating in its crypto entrepreneurship program, as well as innovation in blockchain, a shared digital ledger that’s used to record crypto transactions.
In Europe, one in five crypto holders are women. According to a report published by fintech firm Bitpanda and market research company GlobalWebIndex in 2019, gender distribution among European crypto holders is 78% male and 22% female. The gap is wide, but at the same time, female crypto investors are 30% more likely to be in the top 10% of earners — 21% versus 16% of their male counterparts. Interest and incentive among women around the world to acquire and work in crypto is clearly climbing.
A Clean Energy-Based Crypto Future
The question at large is, how can industries work together to ensure that bitcoin and other crypto production is less harmful on the environment? Crypto entrepreneur, Amy Karr, says evaluating the way bitcoin is mined is crucial.
“[Bitcoin mining creates new incentives for clean energy usage at both a personal and industrial level,” shares Karr. “Right now, we can use clean Bitcoin mining as a catalyst for growing solar use. In the near future, we create more economic power behind the need for a national grid that’s capable of powering an innovative future without damaging the environment.”
Jeff Kirt, CEO of Greenidge Generation, agrees. Based in upstate New York, Greenidge is a vertically integrated bitcoin mining and power generation facility that’s 100% carbon neutral. After transforming an old coal-fired plant to operate entirely on natural gas, which results in reduced greenhouse gas emissions, the company invests heavily in reliable carbon offset credits to ensure it maintains net zero carbon emissions. Additionally, Greenidge is focused on deploying renewables across its operations and investments, while aiming to expand to other states.
So What Exactly Is Bitcoin Mining?
“It’s important to note that what bitcoin miners are doing is processing transactions and adding blocks to the blockchain,” says Kirt. “This includes everyone all over the world that owns bitcoin, such as someone in the US who sends bitcoin to a family member in a developing country. That transaction needs to be recorded in the blockchain. There are approximately 700,000 blocks in the blockchain. A new block is created approximately every 10 minutes, and it’s the bitcoin miners that create those blocks. Now, we’re paid for creating those blocks by getting the transaction fees.”
In May, when Greenidge announced that it’s using a portion of its bitcoin mining profit to do bitcoin mining on a carbon neutral basis at all of its facilities, the company purchased domestic certified carbon offset credits that are certified by one of three agencies or organizations accredited by the California Air Resources Board, recognized by the industry as the gold standard in the carbon offset field.
Kirt is hoping more organizations will set out to scale environmentally friendly bitcoin mining within their own capacity. The Winklevoss twins, founders of the cryptocurrency exchange, Gemini, acquired $4 million in carbon credits as a way to make bitcoin more sustainable.
“The more companies that do carbon neutral bitcoin mining the better,” shares Kirt. “It’s going to be scaled institutional players in the Western world that are going to lead this charge.”
If it’s Western companies that take the lead in environmentally sound bitcoin mining, here’s to hoping the rest of the world follows suit. Cathy Yoon, general counsel at INX Limited, the owner of blockchain-based trading platforms for digital securities and cryptocurrencies, says it’s time for the crypto energy narrative to change, overall.
“I think being carbon neutral and environmentally friendly are important goals and aspirations for more than just women,” opines Yoon. “However, to say that bitcoin mining goes against those ideals is incorrect. We spend energy on the things that matter or have value to us as a society. Consuming energy in and of itself isn’t bad. I think many of us feel the narrative needs to change from focusing on energy consumption to addressing the sources of energy used for the things that matter to us. For those of us in the northeast, we use energy to heat our homes in the winter. A lot of us understand that consuming oil for heat isn’t the best thing, but we don’t say we shouldn’t heat our homes because doing so uses energy. Instead, many are seeking out lower cost energy sources, and in many cases that means renewable energy sources like solar.”
Speaking of solar energy, Greenidge Generation announced today that it will be investing profits from its carbon-neutral bitcoin mining operation to expedite the closure of a 40-year-old coal ash landfill in the Finger Lakes region, and create a new solar farm at the site.
To invest in clean alternatives in any industry is to invest in women and the world. Bitcoin and blockchain may be more pressed for time, due to their extreme carbon emissions and their increasing demand. Suffice to say, if you’re an investor looking at ways to support clean energy and women, consider funding clean energy bitcoin mining.
“For far too long, women worldwide have been held back by economic systems built on dirty industries, and we’re coming into a rapidly approaching reality where women are disproportionately impacted by climate change,” concludes Karr. “Bitcoin puts the opportunity for a new financial and clean energy future back in our hands.”