Climate and Energy Implications of Crypto-Assets in the United States, a Translation


read the real report here, if you enjoy that sort of thing

Statement of Purpose

On March 9, 2022, President Biden signed an Executive Order that he subsequently forgot about. Unfortunately, some of his more youthful staff remembered, and thus were we compelled to compile this report. Here you’ll find a comprehensive look at the connections between some fintech buzzwords (distributed ledger technologies) and political buzzwords (climate justice) — one guaranteed to be informed by objective data, and not what would help the administration the most in the midterms.

Summary and Recommendations

The moving goalposts of America’s carbon-reduction targets now suggest that if we reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, we’ll only fuck over humanity like, a little bit. Medium-ish at most. So we’d like to do that if at all possible.

If anyone with any power felt any true sense of urgency over this existential threat, we’d be pouring dozens of Manhattan Project-level budgets into commercializing nuclear fusion, rolling out solar on every roof in America, building massive geothermal capacity, sequestering the last hundred years of anthropogenic carbon, desalinating the Salton Sea, controlling the weather, advancing battery and energy storage technology far beyond what humanity’s petty addiction to smartphones has catalyzed, and turning our slap-dash, dilapidated grid into a dynamic energy system with layers upon layers of redundancy and resilience.

But this is America in 2022. So instead, powerful people will take private jets to conferences to bemoan the climate emergency together, we’ll set some goals we can’t possibly meet in our uncoordinated, hopelessly mal-invested bizarro-klepto-not-quite-capitalist system, and then complain and moralize about energy uses we don’t like. Bonus irony points will also be awarded if the verboten energy uses can provide inclusion and opportunity for systematically oppressed people, but we claim that it actually uniquely harms them.

The U.S. government has a responsibility to ensure electric grid stability, enable a clean energy future, and protect communities from pollution and climate change impacts. We could choose to do so with a mindset of grand ambition and abundance, but instead we’re thinking…arbitrary energy austerity that matches the political goals of those in power. We could lie to you and say it was a tough choice, but honestly the latter sounded a whole lot easier.

Motivation and Introduction

The climate crisis is a key priority for this administration, and saying that repeatedly, in places where it might not even make sense, performs well for our base.

Somehow, also, the US must promote responsible development of digital assets. Strange that we’re saying that right after mentioning the climate crisis? Maybe read that first paragraph again.

Crypto-Assets Affect Electricity Usage and the Grid

Crypto-assets use less energy than all the drying machines in America. And that worries us from a climate perspective, because we were hoping it used a lot more to justify connecting these two things together. However, with large enough numbers and bad estimates, we can probably make this sound scarier. We’ll get back to you on specifics.

Some cryptocurrencies use less energy than others. No one here is an expert on the sybil resistance mechanisms employed, but we do appreciate the less energy-intensive cryptocurrency systems; they seem to be much easier to override economically if we are unsuccessful at infiltrating their social layers. There’s also a degree of centralization pressure in those systems that ensures we’ll only need to bust down the doors of a few well-known whales (or exchanges) to make things work the way we want — particularly since none of the prominent systems have any sort of default, base-layer privacy.

Anyway like we said, not experts by any means, but those other systems with all the energy use? They are destroying the planet. Someone should do something about it, like banning them, instead of over-building energy capacity on a world-changing scale.

If we succeed at banning them, perhaps we could ban other forms of energy use we don’t like. What if we banned recreational Jet-Skis? No A/C, nationally, on Tuesdays from now on? Banish the energy sent to data centers that willfully spread “misinformation?” The sky’s the limit on energy rationing! We could really help the planet here everyone, particularly if you help us this November.

Crypto-Assets Result in Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Other Environmental Impacts

We can’t believe we have to write this cursed paragraph, but here it goes.

Everything we do in modern life results in greenhouse gas emissions. We are at the mercy of the externalities of the power grid. If anything, it seems that based on the real data, the power-generating sources that flow into energy-intensive crypto applications emit less greenhouse gas than average.

Which really sucks, because we’re not quite sure how we can contort this into the narrative we want here. Did we mention that criminals use crypto-assets? That’s pretty bad right? What if they were also climate criminals? That’s doubly bad! Imagine a cartel boss in their tricked-out Hummer H2, illegally importing Russian oil, lighting a cigar, then throwing it onto the oil they just purchased for shits and giggles. That’s basically what they’re doing every time they send a bitcoin to their fellow criminals. Something for you to ponder for sure.

Emerging Digital Asset Technologies Could Support Climate Monitoring or Mitigation

We are legally required to include a section that evaluates whether a piece of purposeless Accenture bloatware could help us solve our problem, or make it irredeemably worse.

Since one of Adam Neumann’s failed startups was looking into this too, we consider the conclusion obvious and this legal obligation fulfilled.

Conclusion

There’s a fork in the road, one which will define the next century of human existence.

We could leverage a global glut of excess per-capita clean energy magnitudes more than any one of us can possibly imagine…to allow humanity to freely do the unimaginable.

Or we can let our ambitions be dictated by miserly, hypocritical elites who will constantly judge the energy we use and to what end, do little to accelerate the actual removal of fossil fuels from our global energy mix, while we watch helplessly as our children and children’s children are condemned to autocratic energy poverty for the feigned austerity of a class that will never sacrifice anything close to what they will ask of all of us.

…oh well, I guess it was a good run.