Please forward this cheapest bitcoin mining rig screen to 158. The digital currency is slowing our effort to achieve a rapid transition away from fossil fuels.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably been ignoring the bitcoin phenomenon for years — because it seemed too complex, far-fetched, or maybe even too libertarian. But if you have any interest in a future where the world moves beyond fossil fuels, you and I should both start paying attention now. 10,000 barrier for the first time. Those same people are now realizing that if they’d just paid in cash and held onto their digital currency, they’d now have enough money to buy a house. That sort of precipitous rise is stunning, of course, but bitcoin wasn’t intended to be an investment instrument.

But what they might not have accounted for is how much of an energy suck the computer network behind bitcoin could one day become. Simply put, bitcoin is slowing the effort to achieve a rapid transition away from fossil fuels. What’s more, this is just the beginning. Given its rapidly growing climate footprint, bitcoin is a malignant development, and it’s getting worse. Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin provide a unique service: Financial transactions that don’t require governments to issue currency or banks to process payments. Increasingly, bitcoin is failing the test.

And miners are constantly installing more and faster computers. And that power-hungry network is currently increasing its energy use every day by about 450 gigawatt-hours, roughly the same amount of electricity the entire country of Haiti uses in a year. That sort of electricity use is pulling energy from grids all over the world, where it could be charging electric vehicles and powering homes, to bitcoin-mining farms. And with the climate conscious racing to replace fossil fuel-base plants with renewable energy sources, new stress on the grid means more facilities using dirty technologies. By July 2019, the bitcoin network will require more electricity than the entire United States currently uses. By February 2020, it will use as much electricity as the entire world does today. This is an unsustainable trajectory.

It’s certain that the increasing energy burden of bitcoin transactions will divert progress from electrifying the world and reducing global carbon emissions. In fact, I’d guess it probably already has. The only question at this point is: by how much? Please enable and refresh the page. 0″,”credit”:””,”camera”:””,”caption”:””,”created_timestamp”:”0″,”copyright”:”This content is subject to copyright. 0″,”credit”:”Getty Images”,”camera”:””,”caption”:”Largest fire by LA in 2009, typical for the semiarid climate where fires would break out long before the area was populated.