LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Other truths about Greenidge and Bitcoin

Letter to the Editor

In the Oct. 13 edition of the Chronicle-Express Robert Schwarting was given front page space to describe his “truths” about Greenidge. I will not deny his truths, but I must point out other truths that he omitted.

A factory can be judged by what it produces. Greenidge still presumably supplies some power to the grid, but its main focus, and source of growth and profit, is mining Bitcoin. That is the problem because Bitcoin has only two uses: for money laundering and speculation.

When a Naval nuclear engineer wants to peddle US nuclear secrets abroad, he requests payment in cryptocurrency. When a Russian syndicate blocks a hospital’s computers, it demands ransom in cryptocurrency. Indeed, without this underground currency the scourge of ransomware attacks could not exist.

Speculators have driven the price of one Bitcoin to $55,000. They can’t buy a car with this coin; its only value is that they may be able to sell it to someone else for an even higher price. The volatility that makes Bitcoin attractive to speculators makes it useless as a legitimate “digital currency.”

The company and the community are on a sugar high as the Bitcoin price has soared. Yates County has been the beneficiary of several very generous grants from Greenidge. But is this business model viable for the long term? The speculative Bitcoin bubble may burst and the federal government is starting to recognize the need for regulation of this dark web economy. China has banned cryptocurrency transactions.

Environmentalists, of course, are concerned by the vast amount of natural gas being burned and CO2 being produced to generate one Bitcoin. Greenidge reports that the CO2 output is "offset" but that is still CO2 coming out of the stack. Although the CO2 output from one plant may look minor, the whole industry produces more CO2 than many smaller countries, all to produce something with no intrinsic value, like a poker chip.

David Soule


EDITOR’S NOTE: Letter writers are responsible for making sure the information they submit is accurate and factual.