Did Bitcoin Mining REALLY Turn a Glacial Lake Into a Giant ‘Hot Tub’?

Did Bitcoin Mining REALLY Turn a Glacial Lake Into a Giant ‘Hot Tub’?

You may have heard this week that a fossil fuel power plant that mines Bitcoin has turned Seneca Lake, the largest of the glacial Finger Lakes in New York State, into a giant hot tub. That would be truly devastating environmental news if it were true, but is it really possible?

The claim originated in a recent NBC piece that quoted Seneca Lake homeowner Abi Buddington as saying that “the lake is so warm you feel like you’re in a hot tub.” Buddington owns a home near the Greenidge power station, which since last year has used some of its energy to mine Bitcoin. The integration of Bitcoin mining has kept the plant running—Greenidge was mothballed in 2011 after 74 years in service as a coal-fired plant but private equity firms stepped in and converted it to a natural gas plant in 2017 and added Bitcoin miners to the operation last year.

This is an anecdote in an interesting article about how big firms are turning fossil fuel power plants into Bitcoin mining operations; it’s also been glommed onto by both Bitcoin boosters and environmentalists as a flashpoint in the broader, crucial debate about Bitcoin’s environmental impact. Several articles highlighted Buddington’s “hot tub” quote and took it even further. One headline said Bitcoin mining made the lake into a “giant hot tub,” and another (since updated) headline said Greenidge is “turning a 12,000-year-old glacial lake into a hot tub.” The headlines angered Bitcoin proponents, who are busy minimizing the environmental impact of the electricity-powered cryptocurrency, which has recently become a point of heated contention among environmental advocates and those who simply think Bitcoin is a bad use of resources.

“A ludicrous claim,” said Zack Voell, a researcher at Bitcoin mining marketplace Compass Mining. Voell, along with other Bitcoin advocates, argues that “the math doesn’t even start to add up,” and that it’d take more than Greenidge’s few thousand Bitcoin miners to turn a glacial lake that’s replenished with 328,000 gallons of underground spring water every minute into a Jacuzzi.  ReadMore

Source : vice

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