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When new technologies like electricity or the dishwasher took off in the 20th century, most of the people racing to adapt them had no idea what trading candles for light bulbs would do to the Earth's climate.

Researchers at the University of Hawaii have set out to make sure that doesn't happen again when it comes to a 21st century technology that has some people very excited: Bitcoin.

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By Jeremy Deaton

Bitcoin, the much-hyped cryptocurrency, made headlines recently for driving a surge in power use. Around the globe, digital entrepreneurs are 'mining' bitcoins by solving complex math problems, using supercomputers to get the job done. Those supercomputers use a ton of power, which largely comes from coal- and gas-fired power plants spewing gobs of carbon pollution.

But while hackers wreak havoc on the climate, blockchain, the bleeding-edge technology behind bitcoin, could one day help clean up the mess. Climate wonks say blockchain has a role to play in the clean-energy economy, helping homeowners sell electricity, allowing businesses to trade carbon credits, and making it easier for governments to track greenhouse gas emissions.

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Blockchain technology could solve food safety and fraud by enabling immediate traceability to the point of origin. Shutterstock

By Sylvain Charlebois

There has been a lot of noise on cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin of late. While some suggest cryptocurrencies are a fraud, others believe them to be the next biggest economic revolution the world has seen since the internet. Bitcoin has brought to light blockchain technology, which offers great potential for food safety and verification in the agrifood sector. Yet it is far from being the panacea for a range of issues affecting the industry—at least for now.

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Bitcoin's insane price hike to more than $15,000 on Thursday has left me thinking one thing: I'll never be able to afford these things, so why should I care?

But while bitcoin-money lines the pockets of early investors and digital currency speculators, the rest of the planet is suffering. As it turns out, bitcoin is sucking up a whole lot of energy.

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