Malice Or Ignorance? The New York Times Keeps Printing Lies About Bitcoin Mining


The New York Times’ campaign against bitcoin rages on. Even though this time they had the perfect opportunity to write a balanced article, they didn’t. The author reports one positive bitcoin mining story after another, while keeping a snooty attitude and suggesting it’s all a PR move. The title summarizes the New York Times’ stance, “Bitcoin Miners Want to Recast Themselves as Eco-Friendly.”

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Before we get into it, a quick story. The foremost expert in bitcoin’s energy consumption, Nic Carter, published an exhaustive report on mining. Among other things, it contained hard data that showed to what extent China was mining using hydropower energy. Mainstream media largely ignored it. The party line was that we couldn’t trust China’s statistics. And, that China was probably burning cole. 

Fast forward to last month. China banned bitcoin mining a while ago and bitcoin’s hashrate relocated, recovered, while the network functioned perfectly throughout. Most of China’s mining industry relocated to green energy-abundant countries. What did the New York Times post? An article called “China Banished Cryptocurrencies. Now, ‘Mining’ Is Even Dirtier,” that claims that Chinese miners were using hydropower energy and thus used cleaner energy.

That’s the level of propaganda we’re dealing with.

What Did The New York Times Say About Bitcoin Mining This Time?

The article starts by featuring Argo Blockchain, the company is building a new facility that “would be fueled mostly by wind and solar energy.” They even quote Peter Wall, Argo CEO, saying. “This is Bitcoin mining nirvana. You look off into the distance and you’ve got your renewable power.” What could be wrong with that?

Two paragraphs later, the New York Times starts pushing lies and embarrassing numbers: 

“A single Bitcoin transaction now requires more than 2,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity, or enough energy to power the average American household for 73 days, researchers estimate.”

Of course, those ridiculous claims come from Digiconomist, a widely debunked researcher who happens to be an employee of the Dutch Central Bank. And then, they blatantly quote the malicious study mentioned in the intro. 

“The Bitcoin network’s use of green energy sources also dropped to an average of 25 percent in August 2021 from 42 percent in 2020. (The industry has argued that its average renewable use is closer to 60 percent.) That’s partly a result of China’s crackdown, which cut off a source of cheap hydropower.”

And quote Alex de Vries, one of the study’s authors, being completely off the mark. “What a miner is going to do if they want to maximize the profit is put their machine wherever it can run the entire day.” WHAT? To maximize profit, a miner is going to find the cheapest source of energy possible. Energy is their biggest cost. The cheapest source possible is energy that’s currently being wasted. That’s the situation.

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More Feel-Good Stories Framed As Bad News

The New York Times even quotes Paul Prager, TeraWulf CEO, saying “Everyone I talk to now is talking about carbon neutrality. The language has absolutely changed.” And then, the newspaper spreads the good news.

“TeraWulf, has pledged to run cryptocurrency mines using more than 90 percent zero-carbon energy. It has two projects in the works — a retired coal plant in upstate New York fueled by hydropower, and a nuclear-powered facility in Pennsylvania.”

None of these stories are celebrated. Remember the article’s title, they are cynically presented as PR stunts. Then, it´s time for Sangha Systems, who “repurposed an old steel mill in the town of Hennepin. Sangha is run by a former lawyer, Spencer Marr, who says he founded the company to promote clean energy. But about half the Hennepin operation’s power comes from fossil fuels.”

The New York Times Closes The Loop

That’s the worst example that the New York Times could find. A person who “founded the company to promote clean energy” but had to make a compromise to start his business. To close the article, the author brings us back to Argo Blockchain and tries to pull something similar. Apparently, the CEO “can’t guarantee that Argo’s new center will have no carbon footprint. That would require bypassing the grid and buying energy directly from a renewable power company.”

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And then, they quote him again. “A lot of those renewable energy producers are still a little bit skeptical of cryptocurrency. The crypto miners don’t have the credit profiles to sign 10- or 15-year deals.”

So, Argo is really trying but it’s not possible at the moment for understandable reasons. And the whole industry is moving to a greener path because the incentives are aligned that way. Got it, New York Times. Got it.

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