Speaking in the New Rules segment on his show Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday, the comedian said the goal of mining crypto was to “make something that is purposefully arbitrary.” Comparing the crypto space to a virtual game and speaking about mining in a seemingly derisive tone, Maher implied investing in tokens was a childish endeavor which some prominent financial figures like Warren Buffett were avoiding.
“There is something inherently not credible about creating hundreds of billions in virtual wealth with nothing ever actually being accomplished and no actual product made or service rendered,” said Maher. “Unfortunately what is real is the unfathomable amount of electricity those massive supercomputers suck up for their mining.”
“Bitcoin uses more electricity per transaction than any other method known to mankind; just one uses more energy than a million Visa transactions and has the same carbon footprint as 85,000 hours of watching YouTube [...] Bitcoin uses more energy than Netflix, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Google combined.”
The comedian admitted he still doesn’t “get it” when it comes to crypto — for example, he mistakenly referred to the creator of Bitcoin as “Satatoshi Nakamoto.” Prominent figures in the space were quick to jump on Maher’s comments, seemingly referring to the 65-year-old as someone who was out of touch with the realities of the financial world.
“I like Bill Maher a lot and he is spot on many times, but his view of crypto is one sided,” said Alex Iskold of 2048 Ventures. “There is speculation for sure but the future of money is digital, and blockchain will have many many applications, that’s for sure too.”
Though Maher’s comments on the nature of cryptocurrency as “just a Beanie Baby that runs on coal” elicited sharp criticism from some, others were not so quick to dismiss his environmental arguments. Bitcoin’s energy consumption has been significantly increasing as the network does, leading to many being concerned with the crypto asset’s carbon footprint in the years to come.
Digiconomist founder Alex de Vries recently said the environmental impact of BTC could “quickly get completely out of control if adoption increases a lot more.” However, both Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Tesla CEO Elon Musk have claimed that the continued adoption of Bitcoin would incentivize the use of renewable energy such as solar and wind.