Bitcoin is one of the world’s most popular cryptocurrencies. You’ve probably had someone tell you that you should invest in it, but that same someone probably hasn’t thought much about the potential environmental effects mining cryptocurrency.

How It Works

Bitcoin is virtual currency stored in a digital “wallet” that can be used to make payments electronically or as an investment or store of value. Bitcoin is “created” when it is mined from computers by sophisticated software, and some cryptocurrency enthusiasts set up entire mining farms that pick apart lines of code for the stuff 24/7.

But because these big mining ops require a lot of electricity, some experts are saying that the Bitcoin industry will use as much electricity as the country of Ireland by the end of 2018. That could be just as detrimental to the industry as the Earth.

Why So Much Electricity?

Bitcoin computers don’t sit idly. They constantly compute intense formulas and algorithms in an effort to make more money. Your run-of-the-mill laptop isn’t going to make this happen, either. Serious investors use heavy-duty computers, and they don’t just use one or two.

me investors have moved their operations to rural towns to try to save on electric bills. This year, Wenatchee, Washington was one of the latest low-energy-cost cities to be pounced on by the Bitcoin industry. Bitcoin has seen a steady increase in value, and the amount of Bitcoin investors is also increasing.

Why The Numbers Matter

Environmentalists aren’t the only ones worried about the Bitcoin industry’s energy consumption. More energy expended correlates with more investors mining for Bitcoin. With more miners entering the industry, a point will be reached when the cost of purchasing space and computers will exceed the potential to make money.

In other words, if there are too many computers involved, the chances of individuals making a profit will decrease. When and if that happens, the Bitcoin bubble could burst. The industry’s stakeholders are scrambling for answers before its too late.