Good morning and welcome to Essential California Newsletter. It is Tuesday May 10th. I’m Justin Ray.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a cryptocurrency executive order to help facilitate growth in the state. But it says little about a major downside to the industry: its environmental impact.
The Executive Order for you to read here, spends a lot of time discussing the need to be proactive to prevent “unintended social consequences of new technologies” and unequal opportunities in communities. It also explains how the state has laid the groundwork to regulate cryptocurrency to “create a transparent and consistent business environment for companies operating on blockchain.”
The environmental impact of cryptocurrency comes up twice in order: once when discussing the need to create a “business environment” that “embodies Californian values such as equity, inclusivity, and environmental protection,” and once when discussing the need to consider contributions from Stakeholders who may be “concerned about potential negative externalities, including energy use and environmental impacts.”
Put simply, the executive order doesn’t put a lot of energy into energy. Here’s why that’s a problem.
What is the harm of Bitcoins?
To understand why bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are bad for the environment, I need to give you a basic understanding of how they work and the process that is at the heart of it: Proof of Work.
First, cryptocurrency has what is called a distributed ledger. This means that there isn’t just one person responsible for updating a transaction record; Many people on a network have their own records.
Now this system needs to address the double-spending problem: if you walk into a store and buy a $20 beer, you don’t have that $20 anymore. But if you have cryptocurrency, you could pay two people with the same $20. To eliminate this, transactions must be verified. (A group of these verified transactions are placed in a block. These transactions build on previous transactions that are in previous blocks. Together, these form blockchains.)
But how are these blocks verified? This is where miners come into play. Using their computers, they attempt to solve a complex mathematical puzzle that verifies and approves the transactions. Whoever solves it first will be rewarded with bitcoins. This process is a proof of work.
The reason Bitcoin takes so much energy is because there are many, many, many, many, many machines trying to solve the puzzle.
The energy consumption
When The Associated Press reports, it is difficult to determine exactly how much energy the industry uses, as not all miners report their consumption. However, the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index estimates that last year bitcoin mining consumed about as much as the state of Virginia consumed in 2020. The New York Times reports that Bitcoin uses seven times more electricity than Google (you read that right). NYT also reported that usage “has increased about tenfold over the past five years.”
there is more A bitcoin transaction uses the same amount of electricity as an average American household uses in a month. according to Digiconomist, a website that models the environmental sustainability of cryptocurrencies. The website also reports that a single transaction is responsible for around a million times more carbon emissions than a Visa transaction.
When asked about the energy consumption of Bitcoin transactions, Newsom spokesman Alex Stack told me that the office is still early in the process of establishing a digital currency framework and that protecting the environment is “definitely a priority.”
It’s clear that California wants to be forward-thinking when it comes to energy. For example, Newsom has pushed for it Ban gas cars from the streets and replace it with electric cars. Well, even Elon Musk — the CEO of electric car maker Tesla Motors — said that in May 2021 The company had “suspended vehicle purchases using bitcoin” over concerns about “the rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for bitcoin mining.”
It makes sense that California would want to create a structure around the industry so it can develop more equitably than others have in the past. But is the state more concerned about the business than the impact bitcoin will have on the earth? They’re both important, but maybe we can look at two things at the same time.
And now, Here’s what’s happening across California:
Note: Some of the websites we link to may limit the number of stories you can access without a subscription.
Marcus Yam, a Los Angeles Times journalist with the courage of a warrior and the heart of a poet, won the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography. These are the images that earned him the award (just a note, some of them are graphical). The Times was also nominated for its coverage of the finalists in the Breaking News category accidental gunshot death of a cameraman on the set of the western Rust. Los Angeles Times
Most Californians believe that the University of California and California State University are unaffordable, according to a nationwide survey released on Monday. Community colleges and vocational training are also highly valued by residents as alternative routes to professional success. Los Angeles Times
Mater Dei football players are said to have sexually abused teammates. According to a Santa Ana Police Department document, the incident happened in late August. Los Angeles Times
Exclusive: In the War Room of the NFL Schedule. Creating this near-perfect NFL schedule takes up to 4,000 computers and five people, with a result that leaves “everyone equally disappointed.” Los Angeles Times
Ballots are now being mailed to every registered voter and will soon be available for drop off at mailboxes across the city or mailed back. It remains to be seen, of course, how many voters will participate and who they will support. But with a month to go, the LA mayoral race looks very different than it did in early 2022. Los Angeles Times
A 38-year-old woman admitted killing three of her children with the help of an unidentified 16-year-old. according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Los Angeles Times
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POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT
Where does the money for the Los Angeles Mayor’s race come from? An examination of fundraising data filed with the City Ethics Commission shows that almost half of campaign donations come from outside the city. “Donors in New York gave LA mayoral candidates $170,670, more than any state outside of California; the average donation is $969. The second highest giving state is Illinois with $89,894 and an average giving of $724,” writes Isabella Zavarise. Crosstown LA
CRIME, COURTS AND POLICE
San Jose Police Department officer charged with sexual misconduct while responding to call A source told the Bay Area News Group that in late April, “an officer was in San Jose on an unspecified call when he walked away from a group in a home and began masturbating.” Another San Jose police officer was recently investigated for allegedly being under the influence of alcohol while searching for a kidnapped child. Merkur News
HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT
Researchers in California recently encountered a rare deep-sea dragonfish almost 1,000 feet below the ocean’s surface. “During a recent expedition aboard our research vessel Western Flyer, MBARI’s science team encountered a beautifully bronze deep-sea dragon. Meet the high-fin dragonfish, Bathophilus flemingi,” wrote the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute on social media. Twitter
More human remains have been found in Lake Mead as the lake continues to recede under drought conditions. The discovery comes a week after boaters found a barrel of skeletal remains in the mud. Los Angeles Times
How the pandemic divided the California county where 1 in 300 people died from COVID. Located about 100 miles east of San Francisco, Tuolumne County has been split in two by the pandemic. It shows how COVID-19 could have changed relationships forever. “I’ve seen it, especially on social media,” says one resident. “People [are] because of those views or not being friends anymore because of those views. Chronicle of San Francisco
California wants more electric cars on its streets. However, a survey in the Bay Area found that more than a quarter of its public charging stations are not working. Almost 23% had non-operable screens, payment defaults or broken connection cables. Another 5% had cables that were too short to reach the vehicle charging socket. Chronicle of San Francisco
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Los Angeles: Cloudy 67 San Diego: Cloudy 66 San Francisco: Cloudy 58 San Jose: Cloudy 63 Fresno: Cloudy 68 Sacramento: Cloudy 65
Today’s Memory of California is of Blanc Rodríguez:
I came to LA in 1967. As I looked through the window, I saw a beautifully landscaped 5 Freeway. Cars were big gas guzzlers, and they went by pretty quickly. City Hall was the tallest building in downtown LA at the time. My mom used to take us to the observatory and we puffed and puffed up the hill and ran down the trail. LA, the most beautiful city with the congested freeways [at] rush hour and the beautiful skyline; I wouldn’t live anywhere else.
If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please limit your story to 100 words.)
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