How Chicago Can Nuke Out its Crypto Ambitions

Anthony Watson Hacker Noon profile picture

Cryptocurrency miners are on the move due to recent Chinese actions. By some accounts, the Chinese government kicked the miners out because of their carbon footprint. The strain on infrastructure was also postulated as a reason. The recent energy shortages in China make this ring true.

Whatever the reason, the miners are on the move. Some of them just went next door to Kazakhstan. Still others are on their way to Texas with its cheap energy. Miami is trying to lure Bitcoin miners as well. However, there are many miners who have not really landed yet. An opportunity remains for Chicago.

For most of the 20th century, Chicago was America’s number two city. Chicago always trailed New York, but it was the undisputed #2. Its position at the headwaters of the Mississippi as well as sitting on Lake Michigan, made it a commodity hub. When America made stuff and grew things, this position made Chicago a financial center of gravitas.

Chicago lost this position as a financial center going into the 21st century. Silicon Valley pulled more and more money west. Los Angeles with its face to China has vaulted the City of Angels far ahead of its Midwest rival.

As Chicago lost its place in global financial markets, Illinois began to lose population. Route 66 started the great sucking sound. Tarmac became the plumbing through which people flowed West. Illinois’ tax base has shrunk almost every year of this century.

However, right at this moment, an opportunity exists. Chicago and the State of Illinois can change their fortunes. There are great synergies just waiting to be joined.

There are three groups: Bitcoin miners, the state of Illinois, and nuclear power activists who could come together for a common cause. The state has a number of nuclear reactors already in operation, and a pro-nuclear activist community. Chicago has a strong desire to become a cryptocurrency hub as well.

With so many homeless Bitcoin miners looking for cheap electricity. Illinois could be a lot more attractive than Texas. After all, there are definitely cryptocurrency miners who prefer to not burn fossil fuels. Nothing demonstrates the ability of humans to heat up this planet like Bitcoin mining.

I actually have a mining rig. It gives off a lot of heat. I use it to heat the room where there is a tropical fish tank. Cryptocurrency mining generates a lot of heat. Proof of work computing requires a lot of numerical calculations and the components give off heat under this kind of load. This is a fact which cannot be debated.

This is cryptocurrency mining’s whole problem. The heat and energy usage are legitimate criticisms. Ultimately, there is no denying cryptocurrency mining is sucking a lot of energy. When one adds the energy required to mitigate the heat, the numbers get very big.

Bitcoin miners represent a community with money and motivation enough to try to use nuclear power for a green outcome. Fission may be the only viable way for cryptocurrency mining to continue to grow into the future. Nuclear fission can provide a green fig leaf to an industry which badly needs one.

More importantly, fission really does have a very small carbon footprint compared to any other method of electrical generation. It represents more than greenwashing. It truly is green. Cryptocurrency miners are very motivated to find green power. It is only a matter of time before cryptocurrency miners realize fission is their only path forward.

Illinois also has a very active pro-nuclear environmentalist movement. There are scientists and engineers and activists throughout the state. They are trying to keep the state from shutting down its fission infrastructure. Like me ,many of these activists wonder about the fossil fuel industry’s involvement in shutting down their number one competitor for energy generation.

If Illinois starts listening to its activist community, it can offer cryptocurrency miners cheap and GREEN electricity. What if Springfield decided to give wayward Bitcoin miners a break on their electricity to sweeten the deal? I feel like there is a pretty good chance Chicago can regain its former status as a financial center in that scenario. It could in fact become the 21st-century digital commodity hub which only the most optimistic dreamer believes can happen.

There are a lot of synergies here. It is a win-win for a diverse set of stakeholders. I am watching with interest. I strongly believe in the ideas behind proof of work cryptocurrencies. I am not ignorant of their strain on the environment though. I truly believe Illinois could become ground zero for a whole different kind of nuclear explosion…one in Bitcoin mining.

Anthony Watson Hacker Noon profile picture


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