The Bitcoin Challenge: Building the Evidence Base to Support Credible Environmental, Economic and Social Decision Making

A special issue of Challenges (ISSN 2078-1547).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2024) | Viewed by 23613

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Science Advisor, Satoshi Action Education, Oxford, MS 38655, USA
Interests: Bitcoin; environmental economics; environmental policy; horizon scanning; institutional analysis; ocean policy; science policy interface

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

While Bitcoin has often been criticized in the past, it is a technological/financial innovation that has the potential to spur transformative environmental, economic, and social change. Potentially important factors include, but are not limited to, Bitcoin’s capacity to: mitigate methane emissions at the source; catalyze investments in renewable energy and electrification infrastructure; reduce transaction costs of financial transactions across scales, right down to local micropayments; and empower households and organizations facing financial and political repression under authoritarian regimes. A recent Challenges article (https://www.mdpi.com/2078-1547/14/1/1) outlined a diverse range of potential Bitcoin research needed to support private and public investment decisions and policy-making.

In this Special Issue, we welcome contributions from researchers on both sides of the Bitcoin debate, from researchers of diverse disciplines, and from non-academic professionals. The focus of submissions should be on the creation, articulation, and/or communication of credible evidence about Bitcoin’s technical, economic, social, governance, and environmental impacts and implications. Contributions may include scientific research and reviews, opinions on regional context-specific research needs, and practical contributions such as Bitcoin-focused case studies or policy analyses (see https://www.mdpi.com/about/article_types for acceptable submission categories). We hope that this Special Issue will help refine the emerging Bitcoin research agenda, identify ways to best support informed decision making, and catalyze enduring improvements in human well-being.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Bitcoin design and technical capabilities (e.g., scaling solutions, multi-sig applications);
  • Philosophical, political, economic, and legal theory of Bitcoin;
  • Bitcoin energy use;
  • Bitcoin’s impact on renewable energy production and electricity transmission infrastructure;
  • Methane mitigation potential for Bitcoin mining;
  • Assessing the performance of Bitcoin investment ESG initiatives;
  • Implications of national-level Bitcoin adoption as legal tender and/or as a reserve asset;
  • Bitcoin’s impact on fiscal and monetary policy;
  • Analysis of regulatory and non-regulatory Bitcoin policy options;
  • Bitcoin’s impact on household consumption and savings patterns;
  • The role that Bitcoin plays in political and environmental narratives;
  • How Bitcoin affects household and organizational adaptive capacity to cope with shocks;
  • Methods for bridging the Bitcoin science-policy interface;
  • Bitcoin’s potential contributions to poverty alleviation;
  • Household, organizational, and governance risks arising from Bitcoin adoption experiments.

Dr. Murray A. Rudd
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Challenges is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • adaptive capacity
  • advocacy coalitions
  • Bitcoin
  • carbon emissions
  • central banks
  • climate change
  • cryptocurrency
  • data processing
  • debasement
  • discount rate
  • electricity grid
  • electrification
  • energy intensity
  • energy transition
  • ESG
  • fiscal policy
  • freedom
  • global warming
  • grid management
  • inflation
  • international remittance
  • Lightning Network
  • methane mitigation
  • mitigation
  • monetary policy
  • money
  • narratives
  • policy analysis
  • political narratives
  • poverty alleviation
  • remittances
  • renewable energy
  • rural development
  • rural electrification
  • securities law
  • stranded energy
  • time preferences

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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18 pages, 790 KiB  
Article
Untangling the Processes of Bitcoin: An Organizational Learning Perspective
by Rupert L. Matthews
Challenges 2024, 15(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe15010009 - 21 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1236
Abstract
Bitcoin is a complex phenomenon, whether in terms of the macro factors affecting its price or its role in the global energy infrastructure. However, extant literature pays too little attention to exploring the internal mechanisms of the protocol to be able to link [...] Read more.
Bitcoin is a complex phenomenon, whether in terms of the macro factors affecting its price or its role in the global energy infrastructure. However, extant literature pays too little attention to exploring the internal mechanisms of the protocol to be able to link them to how they affect the visible characteristics of Bitcoin. This paper uses secondary data from highly reputable Bitcoin-focused sources to systematically map the processes that enable Bitcoin to function as a peer-to-peer cash system. Novelty is achieved by applying the established and versatile “4I” organisational learning framework to provide a new lens through which to understand how the processes within Bitcoin enable and facilitate different types of changes to the protocol. Further insights are provided to organisational learning from Bitcoin, in relation to managing mission-critical changes to organisational systems. In addition, it presents an option for dealing with irreconcilable internal differences to “hard-fork” part of the organisation. While the scope of this paper is limited to secondary data, opportunities for further research, including primary data collection, are outlined to explore how Bitcoin knowledge disseminates within communities or companies. Full article
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Review

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15 pages, 806 KiB  
Review
Bitcoin Use Cases: A Scoping Review
by Emma Apatu and Poornima Goudar
Challenges 2024, 15(1), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe15010015 - 14 Mar 2024
Viewed by 1289
Abstract
This scoping review examines individual and societal use cases of Bitcoin in the peer-reviewed literature. Arksey and O’Malley’s scoping review methodology was used, and a comprehensive search strategy was employed using Web of Science and Engineering village databases. Articles were screened at the [...] Read more.
This scoping review examines individual and societal use cases of Bitcoin in the peer-reviewed literature. Arksey and O’Malley’s scoping review methodology was used, and a comprehensive search strategy was employed using Web of Science and Engineering village databases. Articles were screened at the title and abstract and full-text levels by the authors. One author conducted data extraction to summarize the data. In total, 17 relevant articles were included in this review. Investment and savings were the most widely reported use cases at an individual level, with payments and international transfers less frequently reported in the studies. Only two studies reported on societal use cases of legal tender; however, only one country, El Salvador, executed its intention. Our study suggests that Bitcoin is being used by individuals around the world with little report of societal (e.g., country adoption) uses cases. For example, there is evidence on the internet and on a grass-roots level that Bitcoin is being used in circular economies; however, the peer-reviewed literature may not yet capture the extent and full benefits and challenges. As such, we provide ideas for future research to more comprehensively explore Bitcoin uses and its impacts on individuals and society. Full article
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21 pages, 1585 KiB  
Review
Bitcoin’s Carbon Footprint Revisited: Proof of Work Mining for Renewable Energy Expansion
by Juan Ignacio Ibañez and Alexander Freier
Challenges 2023, 14(3), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe14030035 - 08 Aug 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 16040
Abstract
While blockchain and distributed ledger technology offer immense potential for applications in transparency, security, efficiency, censorship resistance, and more, they have been criticized due to the energy-intensive nature of the proof of work consensus algorithm, particularly in the context of Bitcoin mining. We [...] Read more.
While blockchain and distributed ledger technology offer immense potential for applications in transparency, security, efficiency, censorship resistance, and more, they have been criticized due to the energy-intensive nature of the proof of work consensus algorithm, particularly in the context of Bitcoin mining. We systematically explore the state-of-the-art regarding the relationship between Bitcoin mining and grid decarbonization. We specifically focus on the role of flexible load response through proof of work mining as a potential contributor to renewable energy penetration and net decarbonization of the energy grid. The existing literature has not comprehensively examined this area, leading to conflicting views. We address the gap, analyzing the capabilities and limitations of Bitcoin mining in providing flexible load response services. Our findings show that renewable-based mining could potentially drive a net-decarbonizing effect on energy grids, although key adaptations in mining practices are needed to fully realize this potential. Overall, the paper suggests a re-evaluation of the environmental impact of Bitcoin mining, highlighting its potential role as a facilitator for renewable energy expansion, and decarbonization more broadly. Full article
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Other

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8 pages, 179 KiB  
Opinion
Theory of Constraints and Bitcoin: Introducing a New Fulcrum
by Rupert L. Matthews
Challenges 2024, 15(1), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe15010007 - 30 Jan 2024
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1261
Abstract
Much of the attention on bitcoin relates to its ability to store value over time or whether you will one day by able to buy a cup of coffee with it. Much less attention is given to bitcoin’s potential role as a unit [...] Read more.
Much of the attention on bitcoin relates to its ability to store value over time or whether you will one day by able to buy a cup of coffee with it. Much less attention is given to bitcoin’s potential role as a unit of account. This opinion piece proposes that bitcoin has potential to provide a consistent unit of account for organisations to adopt, but also to assist them in making and measuring meaningful business developments. The paper draws from the business improvement philosophy of Theory of Constraints to propose that unit of account, particularly within high inflation environments, is critical to consider. An illustrative case of a well-known publicly traded company, Microstrategy, provides an example and logic for a company choosing to integrate bitcoin into a business. The paper also gives attention to how the adoption of bitcoin can promote the development of renewable energy infrastructure and provide staff with opportunities for personal development to support their well-being. Opportunities for further research are identified to explore the integration of bitcoin within a business as well as with Theory of Constraints. Full article
14 pages, 1067 KiB  
Perspective
Bitcoin Is Full of Surprises
by Murray A. Rudd
Challenges 2023, 14(2), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe14020027 - 18 May 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1966
Abstract
Bitcoin has been embraced by many individuals with strong right-leaning views on freedom, property rights, and self-sovereignty. Among left-leaning progressives, Bitcoin is often quickly dismissed as irrelevant or a major source of carbon emissions. Bitcoin seems, however, to be full of surprises. A [...] Read more.
Bitcoin has been embraced by many individuals with strong right-leaning views on freedom, property rights, and self-sovereignty. Among left-leaning progressives, Bitcoin is often quickly dismissed as irrelevant or a major source of carbon emissions. Bitcoin seems, however, to be full of surprises. A rapidly advancing body of anecdotal evidence suggests that its adoption may affect causes important to progressives, mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, accelerating electrification of economies, alleviating poverty, and supporting human rights for people living under political repression, even though scientific confirmation is lagging. In this paper, I highlight how a Pragmatist perspective can be applied to Bitcoin, a technological and financial innovation that may well reshape how humans perceive and use money, preserve wealth, and structure governance. I first cover Bitcoin’s technological and financial fundamentals and some core concepts of Pragmatism, before outlining how Bitcoin might surprise progressives. Pragmatism offers a philosophical and political grounding for left-leaning “progressive Bitcoiners” who prioritize environmental and social well-being and view inclusive deliberative democracy as the preferred form of governance. Full article
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