A recent article in the journal Cell Reports Sustainability has shown that Bitcoin mining operations globally consume more water annually than New York City, according to The Wall Street Journal. The estimated water consumption by Bitcoin miners is expected to surpass 591 billion gallons this year.
This figure notably exceeds the 403 billion gallons used by New York City in 2022, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The primary water usage in Bitcoin mining arises from the cooling needs of computer servers, both directly and indirectly through air conditioning systems in gas- and coal-fired power plants.
Topic of heated debate
Bitcoin's intensive use of resources extends beyond electricity to significant water consumption. The digital currency's operations require large data centers, which are increasingly demanding in terms of both electricity and water usage.
Critics, including environmental organizations, have raised concerns about the sustainability of Bitcoin mining. The debate centers around whether the energy and resource consumption of Bitcoin mining is justified by its utility.
The report's findings quickly became the topic of another heated debate. Critics like Stephen Diehl condemned Bitcoin as an environmentally harmful technology, while proponents like Daniel Batten challenged the accuracy of the aforementioned claims.
Batten argued that the methodology used in estimating Bitcoin's water usage was flawed, stressing the need for a more nuanced understanding of resource consumption in the context of renewable resources like water.
He pointed out that the indirect measurement of water use through electricity consumption does not accurately represent Bitcoin's actual water footprint.
Furthermore, Batten criticized the approach of correlating unrelated variables to draw exaggerated conclusions.