I recently found out that Bitcoin uses more energy than Switzerland.
I don't really know if this is a good or bad thing, but I do know that thinking about it in those terms is pretty intense for me.
It should come as no surprise that it doesn't come close to touching the consumption rates of the G7 countries. I am surprised to find that China uses more electricity than the United States by a factor of nearly 2x, but looking into the source table for the consumption rates of countries "below the fold", it got even more interesting.
Bitcoin uses about 64 TWh annually.
There are over 50 countries whose consumption is less than one million. That means that the amount of power being consumed mining bitcoin is not too far off from the same amount of power it would take to power 50+ countries for the year. Although I think the block chain, as a technology, is awesome and will lead to a lot of interesting things in the future, I'm not sure that cryptocurrency is the best use of the blockchain's technical capabilities, and am even less certain that its worth putting that much power into the mining of it versus distributing some of that demand to countries which can use it to power their infrastructure and bring services to their people . . . assuming the political infrastructure is in place to support that, which is admittedly a pretty big assumption.