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Just to give an example of a blockchain approach to this: Ethereum Name Service [1].

1. https://ens.domains/

I can't support Ethereum as it uses proof-of-work, and while it is a different implementation than Bitcoin, proof-of-work is inherently energy-intensive / environmentally problematic.

If blockchain technology were to become popular and widely used by ordinary people, its already worrying environmental impact would skyrocket, assuming the technology is capable of scaling at all. We need to bring the energy consumption of blockchain technology down to a manageable level, and that means abandoning proof-of-work as far as I can tell.

Can someone give a proper counter-argument to this?

I keep telling my friends hyped by bitcoin that I do not believe in its future as a currency for real daily exchanges because of this energy consumption problem.

Is there any serious track to address this issue?

Unlike most technologies, I do not see the traditional efficiency gains when the technology gets more mature. It seems inherent to proof-of-work and cannot be improved in this paradigm

Assuming a solution is found, is it possible to "update" Bitcoin?

The Bitcoin wiki has a number of counter-arguments https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Myths#Bitcoin_mining_is_a_waste_o...

The future for ethereum is proof-of-stake. This project is called Casper and will be in Ethereum 2.0. For Bitcoin most transactions will be off-loaded to layer-2 networks but PoW will remain on the main chain.

the bitcoin viewpoint is that being backed by energy consumption is a Good Thing. Its harder to manipulate than Proof-Of-Stake or other alternative consensus protocols.

At a larger societal level, we should definitely be worried about tackling emissions for climate change. For this, very few people are advocating getting rid of energy consumption in our societies. Yes, in the short term, people recommend being mindful of the emissions impact of your lifestyle (e.g. a flight has a large carbon footprint) but in the longer scheme of humanity's development we'll always have greater and increasing energy needs.

With that in mind, a lot of focus has been on using non-emissions producing energy (solar, wind, nuclear, etc.) to mitigate climate change. Seen in this context, bitcoin is agnostic to the source of the energy, and its Proof-Of-Work protocol is fine.

There was namecoin way before that, with .bit domains and failed to solve anything.

I never tried ENS but namecoin works flawlessly as intended. It is actually more reliable than classic DNS.

It may have failed at adoption, but the problem of decentralizing DNS has been solved.

> It may have failed at adoption, but the problem ... has been solved.

I am unconvinced that a solution nobody uses counts as a solution to a problem anyone has.

People have not been hurt enough by centralized DNS and CA certification yet. As soon as that happens the masses will adopt the decentralized version in droves.

It might just never happen. Until then the "worse is better" rule applies.

I have used ncdns in conjunction with dnsmasq in the past and I am happy that there is a solution out there that works just in case the other fails.

According to Wikipedia, Namecoin uses proof-of-work just like Bitcoin, and is therefore very energy-intensive / an environmental disaster. Therefore I could not support Namecoin even if it works perfectly as you say it does. We're going to need a more environmentally-friendly solution to decentralizing DNS.

As long as Bitcoin exists you can do merged mining with Namecoin. This means there is literally zero additional cost and impact on the environment for mining.

If the very unlikely case occurs and bitcoin stops being a thing there is always the possibility to change the POW algorithm. Until then Namecoin is a solution that works ultra reliably since years and most importantly unlike other solutions it works today.

If Namecoin were to become popular, wouldn't that encourage more mining of Bitcoin even if you were doing merged mining? It seems like if Namecoin took off then people would just say the reverse, "Don't worry about the environmental damage of Bitcoin, people were already mining Namecoin so there's no additional harm."

Good question.

Do you assume that if Namecoin were to become super popular, the price of its coin would become very high? I don't see why. Can you explain this assumption?

Namecoins are not Bitcoins, they're not supposed to be used as a currency, so the logic that the popularity of Namecoin would create a huge raise in its price is not straightforward.

It will take a long time until NMC will be as popular as BTC if ever. Until then let other people figure out how to implement a proper proof of stake and switch to it when the time comes.

In the mean time merged mining is the best compromise between rock solid chain security and environmental impact.

It may have failed at adoption, but I'm really hoping Handshake succeeds. They have a better go-to-market strategy.


I believe that Handshake also uses proof-of-work, based on their paper at https://handshake.org/files/handshake.txt, and therefore I can't support this effort either, because AFAIK all proof-of-work systems use unjustifiable amounts of energy by design (e.g. because anyone attempting to edit a past transaction would have to consume impossible amounts of energy to replicate the entire history).

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