Environment: Cryptocurrency using as much electricity as Sub-Saharan Africa

Renewables are poised to meet the annual increase in global electricity use, but cryptocurrency demand for energy is increasing. Most industrial fishing vessels are untracked, including those sailing around Australia. Climate change has already caused 4 million deaths.

Mapping industrial activity in the oceans

70% of the Earth's surface is ocean. More than a billion people depend on the ocean as a primary source of food and many more as an occasional meal. 80% of internationally traded goods are transported across oceans. The oceans provide 30% of the world's oil. The oceans are increasingly important for mining, aquaculture and renewable energy. Threats to marine ecosystems increase every year. And yet, compared to land, we know comparatively little about the oceans and their ecosystems, including little about the types and magnitude of human activities in them.

The movement of ships can be publicly tracked using the automatic identification system (AIS) they carry (although not all ships have to use it and some turn it off or manipulate the data on occasion). Movements can also be tracked with satellite images, which are not publicly available.

Using these two databases, detailed maps Industrial transport activities (approximately, ships over 15 meters) and energy infrastructure have occurred in coastal waters, which represent around 15% of the world's oceans. The results for 2017-2021 reveal that:

  • At any given time there are around 63,000 vessels on the water, almost half of which are fishing vessels.
  • 70% of fishing activity occurs in Asia. 70% of these ships are Chinese.
  • Only a quarter of the world's industrial fishing receives public monitoring. Almost the entire Asian coast is a hotspot for untracked activity, but it is far from the only one.
  • Europe has the highest percentage of publicly monitored fishing vessels (61%), but the next highest continent is Australia with only 25%, little better than Asia and Africa with 22%. North America performs worst with 17% public following.
  • 65% of non-fishing maritime activity, mostly involving transport and energy vessels, occurs in Asia. A more respectable 70-80% of this activity is recorded in the public tracking system.
  • When Covid began, fishing activity fell by 12% but non-fishing activity remained unchanged.
  • At the end of 2021, there were around 28,000 energy structures in coastal waters around the world. Offshore wind turbines are flourishing and now outnumber oil structures.
  • Most of the oil infrastructure is concentrated in 13 areas, dominated by the United States (2,200 sites), Saudi Arabia (770) and Indonesia (670).
  • Offshore wind development is concentrated off northern Europe (52%) and China (45%).

The two maps below illustrate the findings. Each dot represents a fishing vessel detected during 2017-2021. Those publicly tracked (recorded in AIS) are shown in blue and those not publicly tracked (seen on satellite images but not recorded in AIS) in red.

The area between South Korea and Japan registered 1,975,000 vessels, of which 69% had no public monitoring.

Image: supplied

And to wipe the smiles off the smug faces of Australians, the map of northeastern Australia shows high levels of publicly untracked vessel activity at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (marine boundaries marked with the green line ). To orient you, the green circle is Rockhampton and the orange is Gladstone.

Image: supplied

Renewable energy to meet growth in electricity use

Global electricity demand It is growing at 2% to 3% annually and electricity currently provides around 20% of all energy consumed (but electrification must move even faster). About 85% of additional demand occurs outside advanced economies, mainly in Asia.

Between 2023 and 2026, the share of electricity generated by renewable energy (solar, wind and hydro) is expected to increase from 30% to 37%. Most of the increase will come from wind and solar power, which together now produce almost as much as hydro.

The big news from a climate perspective is that in the next three years, additional generation through renewables (plus joy of joy, a little more nuclear) is expected to meet all needs. Increased demand for electricity.

Image: supplied

The dark continent

Record-breaking alert: Per capita electricity consumption has increased rapidly in Asia. However, it has not increased in Africa in the last thirty years, even though half the population now has access to electricity. Aside from the 50% who still don't have access, the problem for many of those who do have access is cost.

Image: supplied

To give you an idea of ​​how powerless the billion-plus people of sub-Saharan Africa are, excluding South Africa, one person's average annual electricity use is enough to power three light bulbs for a month. Still, there are an average of seven people in each household, often just one room, so there is enough electricity for about two light bulbs for an entire year. Luxury! More seriously, it's something like one-fiftieth of the average electricity consumption per person in Australia. Two hundred years later, tropical Africa is still the "Dark Continent."

Cryptocurrency mining harms the environment and health

I know almost nothing about cryptocurrencies and how they are mined (I didn't even know they were "mined") but apparently mining involves a lot of computers running very fast. Computers run on electricity and most of the world's electricity is produced from fossil fuels. So, with that Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalism piece in mind:

  • The computers behind cryptocurrency mining They consume about 1% of the world's electricity, about the same as that used in Australia. Add data centers and artificial intelligence and is approximately 2.5 times Australia's usage.
  • In the US, cryptocurrency mining consumes up to 2.3% of the country's electricity and is responsible for emitting up to 50 million tons of CO2 each year. Electricity generation at five united states power plants that supply large crypto mining facilities quadrupled between 2020 and 2022.
  • Computers run 24 hours a day and need cooling with huge fans. He noise The money produced by crypto mining facilities is claimed to cause health problems for local residents and reduce property values.

Maybe we should move from 'Stop Adani' to 'Stop Crypto'. At least coal fueled the Industrial Revolution. I'm not sure what social benefits are gained from cryptocurrencies. Come to think of it, the power currently used by crypto mining must be about the same as that used in sub-Saharan Africa.

4 million deaths already...

…make climate change a health emergency right now.

More than half of the 4 million deaths related to climate change since 2000 they have been due to malaria in sub-Saharan Africa and malnutrition and diarrheal diseases in South Asia (probably mostly children). Other causes include heat waves, wildfires, storms, droughts, floods, famines, conflicts, suicides, infectious diseases, and chronic diseases such as heart disease. Four million is probably a very conservative estimate of the cumulative number of deaths in the world.

Aside from Covid (approximately 7 million deaths to date), climate change deaths exceed those from any other public health emergency recognized by the WHO.

The scale of climate change-related deaths was first documented by an Australian, Tony McMichael, twenty years ago, but few realized it. Consequently, many of the subsequent deaths have been caused by two policy failures of rich countries: failure to eliminate the use of fossil fuels and failure to make high-quality healthcare, essential medicines, vaccines, sanitation, etc., available to the public. more vulnerable. the harmful effects of climate change on health.

Unfortunately, responding to the health consequences of climate change remains one of the priorities of governments. Governments around the world have committed approximately $14 trillion to fight Covid and $30 billion to eradicate polio, but are currently only spending $220 million a year on reducing health risks. climate change and preparing health services for climate change.

It's too late to do anything about the four million, but not too late to avoid many of the future climate deaths. Governments must respond with the kind of nationally organized programs they mobilized during the first year or two of the pandemic and with similar urgency and scale.

Maintain cup capitalism

Do any of you have the slightest idea what a 'Stanley' is? I didn't either, until about 5 minutes ago I was completely unaware that it was anything more than a sharp knife mark.

To illuminate your darkness, the 1.3-liter engine Stanley It's a reusable metal water bottle that costs around $45. But more than that, a Stanley 'is part utility, part status symbol, and part internet fashion—there are limited color releases, influencer testimonials, and collaborations with major brands. When Stanley and Starbucks teamed up to create a pink cup for Valentine's Day, Target customers camped out to get one, sometimes coming to blows. Those mugs now sell for more than $300 on eBay.

Of course, being reusable is not the same as being reused, especially if you have a hundred of them.

Everything about this story horrified me: the waste, the consumerism, the influencers, the corporate exploitation, the craziness and, especially, the Only and Tok videos – please shoot me now!

But on second thought, maybe I need to buy my own Stanley and put my haughty disdain into it.

Image: supplied

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