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精读18 | 比特币——挖币的环境代价

The dirty truth

Totting up the cryptocurrency’s environmental costs 

摘自《经济学人》20210410期



今日文章主题:

比特币的能源消耗

原文

As coinbase’s IPO shows, cryptocurrencies have many fans. But they have detractors, too. Environmentalists, in particular, fret about how much energy bitcoin uses. In a paper in Nature Communications, a group of academics led by Dabo Guan of Tsinghua University and Shouyang Wang at the Chinese Academy of Sciences examine bitcoin’s energy use in China. They conclude that, in the absence of legal curbs, bitcoin could by 2024 become a “non-negligible” barrier to China’s efforts to decarbonise its economy. 


Bitcoin’s hunger for energy stems from its design. It forgoes centralised record-keeping in favour of a “blockchain”, a transaction database that is distributed among users. The blockchain is maintained by “miners”, who validate transactions by competing to crack mathematical puzzles with solutions that are hard to find but easy to check. Each successfully mined block of transactions generates a reward, currently 6.25 bitcoins ($357,000). 


The system varies the difficulty of the puzzles to ensure that one new block is created, on average, every ten minutes. High bitcoin prices make it worthwhile to spend more computing power—and therefore electricity—chasing mining rewards. But bitcoin’s automatic stabilisers will ramp up the mathematical difficulty in response. Like the Red Queen in “Through the Looking-Glass”, competing miners find themselves running faster simply to stand still.  


Despite the currency’s democratic ambitions, mining is concentrated among a handful of professional operators. About 70% takes place in China. The researchers use economic modelling to try to work out how much carbon all this make-work produces. They conclude that, without regulation, Chinese bitcoin mining could consume around as much energy as Italy or Saudi Arabia by 2024. Annual carbon emissions, at 130m tonnes, would approach those of Nigeria. 


Such numbers should be taken with a good deal of salt. Bitcoin’s energy use depends crucially on its price, which swings wildly. The authors assume that the long-term trend will be upward, because the rate at which new bitcoins are created is designed to halve every four years. Reality will doubtless prove more complicated. But the general picture—that bitcoin is a dirty business—fits with other research. One oft-cited model, which uses publicly available blockchain data, reckons its global energy consumption is already equal to that of Kazakhstan, and that its carbon footprint matches Hong Kong’s. 


精读笔记

注:译文根据翻译工具翻译,仅供参考


Bitcoin 

比特币

The dirty truth 

肮脏的真相

Totting up the cryptocurrency’s environmental costs

计算加密货币的环境成本

//Tot up 把…加起来;加起来总计 

She quickly totted up our bill and added an amount for the waiter.

她快速地计算了一下我们的账单,并且加上了给服务员的小费。


第一段

As coinbase’s IPO shows, cryptocurrencies have many fans. But they have detractors, too. Environmentalists, in particular, fret about how much energy bitcoin uses. In a paper in Nature Communications, a group of academics led by Dabo Guan of Tsinghua University and Shouyang Wang at the Chinese Academy of Sciences examine bitcoin’s energy use in China. They conclude that, in the absence of legal curbs, bitcoin could by 2024 become a “non-negligible” barrier to China’s efforts to decarbonise its economy. 

正如Coinbase的首次公开募股(IPO)所显示的,加密货币有很多粉丝。但他们也有诋毁者,尤其是环保主义者,他们担心比特币使用的能源量。在《自然通讯》杂志上的一篇论文中,清华大学的管大伯和中国科学院的王守阳领导的一群学者研究了比特币在中国的能源使用情况。他们的结论是,在没有法律限制的情况下,到2024年,比特币可能成为中国经济脱碳努力的“不可忽视”的障碍。


//IPO 首次公开募股,首次上市

abbreviation for initial public offering

//detractor /dɪˈtræktɚ/ n.恶意批评者,贬低者

His detractors claim that his fierce temper makes him unsuitable for leadership.

他的批评者声称他脾气暴躁,不适合做领袖。

//fret /fret/ v.烦躁不安;苦恼,发愁 

She spent the day fretting about/over what she’d said to Nicky.

她为对尼基说的话而担心了一整天。

//examine /ɪɡˈzæmɪn/ v.(仔细地)检查,审查,调查;考核;测试

The council is to examine ways of reducing traffic in the city centre.

市政委员会将研究减少市中心交通量的方法。

//absence /ˈæbsəns/ n.缺席;缺勤;不在场;不存在;缺乏

In the absence of (= because there were not) more suitable candidates, we decided to offer the job to Mr Conway.

由于没有更为合适的人选,我们决定任命康韦先生。

//non-negligible adj.不可忽视的

【扩展】

negligible   /ˈneɡlədʒəbəl/ adj.微不足道的,可忽略的,不重要的

The difference between the two products is negligible.

两种产品之间的差异微乎其微。

My knowledge of German is negligible.

我对德语只是略知一二。


第二段

Bitcoin’s hunger for energy stems from its design. It forgoes centralised record-keeping in favour of a “blockchain”, a transaction database that is distributed among users. The blockchain is maintained by “miners”, who validate transactions by competing to crack mathematical puzzles with solutions that are hard to find but easy to check. Each successfully mined block of transactions generates a reward, currently 6.25 bitcoins ($357,000). 

比特币需要能源源于它的设计。它放弃了集中化的记录保存,转而使用一个在用户之间使用的交易数据库“区块链”。区块链由“矿工”维护,“矿工”使用难以破解但易于检查的解决方案竞相破解数学谜题来验证交易。目前,每个成功开采的交易区块都会产生6.25比特币(357,000美元)的奖励。


//hunger /ˈhʌŋɡɚ/ n.饥饿感;渴望,盼望 

【扩展】

hunger after/for sth 渴望,盼望 

I’ve never hungered after power.

我从不渴求权力。

a hunger for adventure/knowledge/success

对冒险/知识/成功的渴望

//stem from 源自;由…造成

Her problems stem from her difficult childhood.

她的问题主要是由艰难的童年生活造成的。

//forgo /fɔːrˈɡoʊ/ v.放弃,摒绝(令人愉悦之物)

I shall have to forgo the pleasure of seeing you this week.

这周我只好放弃与您相见的那份荣幸了。

//transaction   /trænˈzækʃən/ n.交易 

Each transaction at the foreign exchange counter seems to take forever.

外币兑换柜台的每笔交易似乎都要花很长时间。

//validate /ˈvælədeɪt/ v.(尤指经检查后)批准,认可,使生效;证实…是对的 

He feels that today’s economic problems validate his opposition to the policy.

他觉得目前的经济问题说明他反对这项政策是对的。


第三段

The system varies the difficulty of the puzzles to ensure that one new block is created, on average, every ten minutes. High bitcoin prices make it worthwhile to spend more computing power—and therefore electricity—chasing mining rewards. But bitcoin’s automatic stabilisers will ramp up the mathematical difficulty in response. Like the Red Queen in “Through the Looking-Glass”, competing miners find themselves running faster simply to stand still.  

该系统会改变谜题的难度,以确保每十分钟产生一个新的方块。高昂的比特币价格使其值得需要更强大的计算能力,从而花费更多的电能来获得采矿奖励。但比特币的自动稳定器将加大数学上的难度。就像《爱丽丝镜中奇遇记》中的红皇后一样,竞争的矿工们发现自己只是运行速度更快,却静止不动。


//stabiliser /ˈsteɪbəlaɪzɚ/ n.(对物价或生产水平的)平抑措施;稳定剂;(飞机的)水平尾翼;(船只的)减摇装置;(车辆的)稳定装置

//ramp up 公司)扩大,增加(业务等);加快(速度);增加(威力);提高(费用) 

Announcement of the merger is expected to ramp up share prices over the next few days.

预计公司合并的消息发布后,接下来的几天里股票价格会上扬。

【扩展】

 ramp   /ræmp/  n.(人造)斜坡,坡道;(路面上使车辆放慢速度的)凸起减速带;支路


第四段

Despite the currency’s democratic ambitions, mining is concentrated among a handful of professional operators. About 70% takes place in China. The researchers use economic modelling to try to work out how much carbon all this make-work produces. They conclude that, without regulation, Chinese bitcoin mining could consume around as much energy as Italy or Saudi Arabia by 2024. Annual carbon emissions, at 130m tonnes, would approach those of Nigeria.

尽管该货币具有民主性,但采矿仍集中在少数专业运营商之中。约有70%发生在中国。研究人员试图利用经济模型来计算所有的这些工作产生的碳量。他们得出的结论是,如果没有监管,到2024年,中国的比特币开采可能消耗的能源可能相当于意大利或沙特阿拉伯消耗的能源。每年的碳排放量为1.3亿吨,将接近尼日利亚消耗的能源。


//a handful of 少数,少量 

She invited all her friends to her party, but only a handful of them turned up.

她请了很多朋友参加她的聚会,但只有少数几个到场。

//regulation /ˌreɡjəˈleɪʃən/ n.规则,法规;控制,管理   adj.一般的,普通的;规定的;正规的

The correct procedure is laid down in the rules and regulations.

正确的程序在规章条例中有规定。

【扩展】

regulate  /ˈreɡjəleɪt/  v.控制,管理,调节,调整

Her mother strictly regulates how much TV she can watch.

她妈妈严格控制她看电视的时间。


第五段

Such numbers should be taken with a good deal of salt. Bitcoin’s energy use depends crucially on its price, which swings wildly. The authors assume that the long-term trend will be upward, because the rate at which new bitcoins are created is designed to halve every four years. Reality will doubtless prove more complicated. But the general picture—that bitcoin is a dirty business—fits with other research. One oft-cited model, which uses publicly available blockchain data, reckons its global energy consumption is already equal to that of Kazakhstan, and that its carbon footprint matches Hong Kong’s. 

这样的数字应该用很多盐来计算。比特币的能源使用在很大程度上取决于其波动很大的价格。专家认为,比特币价格长期趋势将是上升,因为新比特币的制造速度是每四年减半一次。毫无疑问,事实会更加复杂。但与其他研究一样,总体情况是比特币是一个肮脏的生意。一个经常被引用的使用公开的区块链数据的模型,估计比特币的全球能源消耗已经相当于哈萨克斯坦能源消耗,而且它的碳足迹相当于香港的碳足迹。


//complicated /ˈkɑːmpləkeɪtɪd/ adj.复杂的;麻烦的;费解的

I had to fill in this really complicated form.

我必须填写这张非常复杂的表格。

//picture /ˈpɪktʃɚ/ n.图画;照片;电影;(头脑中的)想象;情况;局面;事态;描述,描绘  v.想象,设想

After watching the news, I had a clearer picture of what was happening.

看完新闻后,我进一步了解了当时发生的情况。

The picture emerging in reports from the battlefield is one of complete confusion.

据报道,战场上的局面一片混乱。

Try to picture yourself lying on a beach in the hot sun.

设想一下自己在炙热的阳光下躺在海滩上。

//oft-cited /ˈkjʊrət/ v.操持;组织 n.助理牧师 

They need to curate the conversation, and not just be loudspeakers.

他们需要去组织和管理对话,而非仅仅作为扩音器。

END

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原创文章,作者:TTone,如若转载,请注明出处:https://www.qianglongwang.com/161342.html

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