Tuesday, October 26, 2021

We Are So Screwed

Last month I wrote The Looming Fossil Fuel Crash to refine my thoughts for a discussion with my financial advisers. The TL;DR was that the short-term focus and slow, corrupted decision-making process of large companies and institutions means that their response to the need to transition to low-carbon energy will be too slow and too late. The result will be a sudden crash in the value of fossil fuel and related stocks, enough to tank the whole market.

In case you think I'm panicing, the New York Times catches up with me in U.S. Warns Climate Poses ‘Emerging Threat’ to Financial System by Alan Rappeport and Christopher Flavelle:
Climate change is an “emerging threat” to the stability of the U.S. financial system, top federal regulators warned in a report on Thursday, setting the stage for the Biden administration to take more aggressive regulatory action to prevent climate change from upending global markets and the economy.
Higher temperatures are leading to more natural disasters, such as hurricanes, wildfires and floods. These, in turn, are resulting in damaged property, lost income and disruptions to business activity that threaten to alter how assets, such as real estate, are valued.

At the same time, the move away from fossil fuels could cause a sudden drop in the price of stocks and other assets tied to oil, gas, coal and other energy companies, or sectors that rely on them such as carmakers and heavy manufacturing. Such a shift could hurt the stock market, retirement savings and other parts of the financial sector.
Below the fold, an even more depressing update.

Friday, October 22, 2021

A Quarter-Century Of Preservation

The Internet Archive turned 25 yesterday! Congratulations to Brewster and the hordes of miniature people who have built this amazing institution.

For the Archive's home-town newspaper, Chase DiFeliciantoni provided a nice appreciation in He founded the Internet Archive with a utopian vision. That hasn't changed, but the internet has:
Kahle’s quest to build what he calls “A Library of Alexandria for the internet” started in the 1990s when he began sending out programs called crawlers to take digital snapshots of every page on the web, hundreds of billions of which are available to anyone through the archive’s Wayback Machine.

That vision of free and open access to information is deeply entwined with the early ideals of Silicon Valley and the origins of the internet itself.

“The reason for the internet and specifically the World Wide Web was to make it so that everyone’s a publisher and everybody can go and have a voice,” Kahle said. To him, the need for a new type of library for that new publishing system, the internet, was obvious.

We (virtually) attended the celebration — you can watch the archived stream here., and please donate to help with the $3M match they announced.

Friday, October 15, 2021

A Writer I Admire

Wouldn't it be great to write like Maciej Cegłowski? I've riffed off many of his riveting talks, including What Happens Next Will Amaze You, Haunted By Data, The Website Obesity Crisis and Anatomy of a Moral Panic. Now, in a must-read tweetstorm, Cegłowski takes on "Web3", the emerging name for the mania surrounding blockchains and cryptocurrencies. He starts from this tweet:
The replies it garnered are hilarious. Below the fold, some extracts from Cegłowski to persuade you to read his whole thread (Unroll here).

Thursday, October 14, 2021

The Great Mining Migration

China's Cryptocurrency Crackdown has been dramatically effective. The total hashrate dropped by over a half from its peak before recovering. As I write it is still down about 15% from the peak.

The latest figures from the Cambridge Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index provide more detail on what happened. In May China was producing 70.9 Exahash/sec and 44% of the total, as against 75% in 2019. In July, it produced none, triggering the collapse in the hash rate.

The gradual recovery happened as the containers of mining rigs reached their destinations, which by August were mostly in the US (42.7 Exahash/sec), Kazakhstan (21.9 Exahash/sec) and Canada (11.5 Exhash/sec).

If the migration continues to favor the US and Canada, which as of August accounted for about 45% of the total, it would bring closer the ability of Western nations to turn off Bitcoin, as outlined in Unstoppable Code?.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Talk At "Blockchain for Business" Conference

I was invited to be on a panel at the University of Arkansas' "Blockchain for Business" conference together with John Ryan and Dan Geer. Below the fold are my introductory remarks.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Cryptocurrency's Carbon Footprint Underestimated

Back in April I wrote Cryptocurrency's Carbon Footprint about the catastrophic carbon emissions of Proof-of-Work cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. It now turns out that I didn't know that half of it; the numbers I and everyone else has been using are greatly underestimated. Below the fold, based on my no doubt somewhat inadequate methodology, the real story.