The price of bitcoin has reached US$50,000 (£36,095) – another all-time high. It’s hard to believe that 10,000 bitcoin would only buy a couple of pizzas ten years ago. It’s even stranger to think that bitcoins are completely virtual. You can’t hold one, except on a hard drive, and there’s no underlying asset to them. A bitcoin is simply a digital representation of the computer power needed to make one, what’s called its “proof-of-work”.
This isn’t actually a new idea though. Rai stones were one of the first forms of money used on the Micronesian islands of Yap. To get hold of a Rai, you had to row a canoe for 500km or so to Palau and chisel away at some local limestone. Then you needed to take the 3m-wide lump of rock back to Yap without sinking in the Pacific. No one is quite sure when it started, but the practice is at least several centuries old. Yapese money had no inherent value. For everyone to respect the proof-of-work, the process was deliberately inefficient and incredibly resource-intensive, just like bitcoin
This might all sound like a harmless game of digital bingo. But with more and more people enticed by the heady rewards, bitcoin mining on some days uses as much energy as Poland and generates 37 million tonnes of CO2 each year.
New institutional investors, like the carmaker, Tesla, are driving the asset’s price skywards while ignoring bitcoin’s climate-changing appetite. And to keep the bull market charging, supporters are working hard to argue for bitcoin’s green credentials.
‘Poster child for destruction’: The fight to save the Duffins Creek wetland from developers | TVO.org
“What is most at stake is the future of our green spaces,” says Zaheer. “I am extremely worried about the fact that they're just going to get into this cycle of paving over things, and it's going to be too late before they realize what's done."
The friends reached out to students at their former high school to share what they’d learned about the Duffins Creek wetland complex, which has long been designated provincially significant, indicating its special ecological value. They set up a Zoom session with other students and explained that the development had been approved through a Minister’s Zoning Order — a provincial edict that allows the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to make decisions on land zoning while bypassing normal planning processes, such as the citizens’ rights to appeal. Then they coordinated a “phone zap.”
“Everyone muted themselves, and we started spamming Doug Ford’s office, [MPP] Peter Bethlenfalvy’s office, and the [Pickering] mayor’s office,” says Mathura, who is attending his first year of environment, resources, and sustainability studies at the University of Waterloo from his home in Pickering. “It’s really hard to see,” says Zaheer, who studies environmental engineering at the University of Guelph. “Pickering is setting itself up as the poster child for wetland destruction.”
Zaheer and Mathura see the fight for this 57-acre
site, consisting largely of wetland, as part of a larger battle over
public participation and the future of conservation in Ontario. They’re
not alone. In a recent letter, 96 environmental organizations slammed
the Progressive Conservative government’s use of MZOs to overrule
protections for provincially significant wetlands and called for the
Duffins Creek MZO to be revoked. And the matter is also headed for
judicial review: two environmental organizations, Environmental Defence
and the Federation of Ontario Naturalists, filed papers about a month
after the MZO was issued.
2. WHAT ARE THE KEY PROVISIONS OF THE TREATY?
3. HOW AND WHY DID THE TPNW COME TO BE?
4. WHY IS THE BAN TREATY NECESSARY WHEN THE NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION TREATY (NPT) HAS EXISTED FOR DECADES?
5. WHICH STATES OPPOSE THE NUCLEAR BAN TREATY?
A veteran activist describes the international movement to abolish capital punishment. In this excerpt from 13 Ways of Looking at the Death Penalty (Seven Stories Press, 2015), Italian activist Mario Marazziti describes the worldwide campaign against capital punishment and lighting up Rome’s Coliseum to mark humanity’s progress.