The dominant media narrative surrounding Bitcoin has been one of an energy-guzzling digital asset used for speculation. Institutions ranging from local governments to the World Economic Forum (WEF) have been touting Bitcoin’s energy usage as a huge driving factor of climate change, issuing reports comparing its energy consumption to various nation-states.
This narrative was further fueled by the controversial China mining ban in 2021, which saw more than half of Bitcoin’s total hash rate move out of the country. With other countries and provinces within China following suit, Bitcoin managed to garner quite a nasty reputation among environmentalists.
However, the mining industry has been fighting back against these mostly unwarranted claims. Miners have been working hard on turning Bitcoin into a positive force in the fight against climate change — through methane.
Bitcoin, methane, and climate change
While carbon dioxide emissions from burning up fossil fuels are considered to be the biggest polluters today, a byproduct of oil drilling is actually what causes more significant damage to the environment.
When fossil fuel companies drill for oil, they often encounter methane gas in the ground. Being a highly potent greenhouse gas, methane wreaks havoc on the environment when released into the air.
If they encounter methane next to oil drills, companies have three options — reinject the gas into the ground, bring it to a pipeline to sell, or get rid of it. Reinjecting the gas into the ground keeps up the pressure that drives oils out of wells but isn’t always possible. Building a new pipeline is almost never economically viable and few oil wells end up near enough an existing pipeline to make use of it.
This means that the majority of the gas found on oil fields either gets released into the atmosphere or burned. Burning the methane, or flaring, releases significant amounts of carbon dioxide into the air. While slightly better than pure methane, it’s still disastrous for the environment.
To a handful of resourceful companies, Bitcoin seemed like an obvious…