While a surge of interests from forward-looking investors pushed the price of a single bitcoin beyond $57,000 as of Thursday, billionaire Bill Gates has concerns about the process required to produce the digital currency.
The process of bitcoin mining, or generating the digital currency by verifying transactions using powerful computers to solve ultra-complex mathematical equations, consumes a huge amount of electricity. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Gates argued the practice was exacerbating the effects of climate change.
“Bitcoin uses more electricity per transaction than any other method known to mankind,” Bill Gates said in the interview. “It’s not a great climate thing.”
Once considered a fringe concept, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have gained mainstream acceptance in recent years, drawing interest from companies such as Facebook and Tesla. The price of bitcoin has surged more than 600% over the last 12 months, according to CoinBase.
A recent study by Cambridge University found that bitcoin consumes more electricity than the entire country of Argentina. The platform’s carbon footprint is expected to rise as it gains popularity.
Gates, who published a book this year entitled “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster,” suggested he could change his outlook on cryptocurrencies if platforms embrace green energy practices.
“If it’s green electricity and it’s not crowding out other uses, eventually, you know, maybe that’s OK,” Gates added.
Climate concerns have done little to slow bitcoin’s momentum. The cryptocurrency recently surpassed a market capitalization of $1 trillion for the first time since its inception. Lawmakers are moving forward with efforts to regulate cryptocurrencies.
Retail investors wary of financial systems and institutions ingrained in the traditional economy have begun to embrace cryptocurrencies, former Commodity Futures Trading Commission chairman Christopher Giancarlo told FOX Business Network on Thursday.
He argued the U.S. should take a leadership role in the adoption of digital currencies as global rivals such as China take similar steps.
“The United States was the leader in the internet. The United States was the leader in the space program, and as a result of that, we had a leading role in setting the standards for those innovations,” Giancarlo said. “We need to lead in this innovation as well.”