With only 8M users, Bitcoin Blockchain is, by far, the most polluting human activity on earth

Franck Leroy
Crypto Lucid
Published in
3 min readMay 24, 2021

Looking at the blockchain, we find only 8.2 millions active users in the past year. This allows to compare the environmental footprint of Bitcoin with other activities, per active user.

Bitcoin is incredibly wasteful and polluting

Nobody denies anymore the incredible power consumption and environmental footprint of Bitcoin.

We know it compares to the consumption entire countries (between Sweden and Egypt) and exceeds the consumption of all GAFAM and all electric cars on earth, combined :

Bitcoin exceeds the consumption of all GAFAM plus all electric cars on earth, combined. source

Bitcoin already consumes more than systems used by billions of people, daily.

However, to compare the annual footprint of human activities, we can’t just compare raw numbers. We don’t compare the footprint of the Vatican to that of China. We need a good estimate of the number of annual users.

How many active bitcoiners are there ?

Bitkeys.work provides regular dumps of all bitcoin addresses with positive balance. Each address comes with the current balance and the last activity date.

The last snapshot is dated from 27 January 2021. It contains 31 millions unique addresses. Of those, only 10.1 millions addresses have been active in the past year (27.01.2020 to 27.01.2021).

One address does not correspond to a unique user though. It is a upper bound : one user usually owns several addresses. According to glassnode, there are around 18.5% less users than unique addresses. This leads to an estimate of 8.2 millions users of bitcoin in the past year, which is around 0.1% of world population.

Bitcoin had only 8.2 millions active users past year.

Footprint per user

We can now provide an average consumption and footprint of Bitcoin per active user :

The total consumption of bitcoin is estimated to around 120 TWh / year. This gives 14.6 MWh / user / year. This is 50% more than the yearly consumption of an average US household.

The total carbon footprint of Bitcoin stands between 57 Mt CO2 / year (Digiconomist) and 108 Mt CO2 / year (CBECI / CryptoLucid). Leading to 6.9 to 13 tons of CO2 / user / year : topping the average yearly carbon footprint on most humans (4.6 tons CO2 on average).

In the following graph, we compare it with the average footprint of human activities for a US citizen (which is already one of the highest in the world). We also include the awful footprint of the US army (340 Mt CO2 eq), often quoted by bitcoiners, and divide it by the number of its “users” / “beneficiaries” (328 million US citizens).

Bitcoin footprint per capita tops any other human activity


After 12 years of existence, bitcoin has failed to become a practical currency or store of value. It is now primarily used as a speculative asset by only 8 million annual users. It’s time to speak out against this madness and call for a global ban on crypto-currencies based on Proof of Waste.

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