There’s a new cryptocurrency in town. Chia is a new cryptocurrency positioning itself as an eco-friendly alternative to bitcoin. Activists have been speaking out against the environmental impacts of cryptocurrencies. 

Chia also runs on a blockchain like bitcoin, but its founder claims it has a smaller carbon footprint. The Chia Network was founded by Bram Cohen, who also invented BitTorrent. Traditional cryptocurrency relies on computer servers to verify transactions. Chia relies on empty computer storage space for its process, instead of energy-intensive processes that Ethereum and Bitcoin use.

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“It involves completely normal hardware rather than super custom and expensive stuff,” Cohen told CNN Business. “Most people have some amount of unused storage space they can do it with already.”

Nick Spanos, CEO of Blockchain Technologies Corp, a software company, told CNN Business that “environmentally friendly” is a “relative term,” in the world of cryptocurrency, “much in the same way that electric vehicles and windmills still require too much resources to truly be environmentally friendly.”

In 2017, Vox reported that an increase in Bitcoin purchases increased the currency’s energy consumption to approximately 30 terawatt-hours, “on par with the energy use of the entire country of Serbia, more than 19 European countries, and roughly 0.8 percent of total energy demand in the United States, equal to 2.9 million U.S. households.”

Read more about the environmental impacts of bitcoin in One Green Planet.

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