And it could interfere with emissions goals.

Beyond the hype of billionaires tweeting in a bitcoin frenzy is the environmental toll of the mining process, with insufficient data collected about how it affects the environment at large scales.

Seneca Lake in upstate New York has been changed into a huge hot tub because of the heat of a crypto plant nearby, according to an initial NBC News report. The warmed body of water, which is the largest of the Finger Lakes, has become the coolant for roughly 8,000 bitcoin-mining computers burning away inside the Greenidge power plant.

And, local residents have said the lake is "so warm you feel like you're in a hot tub," according to an Input report

Bitcoin mining has drastically altered New York's Seneca Lake

It takes vast amounts of power to mine bitcoin, and to keep the computing system operating at full speed, Greenidge is processing roughly 139 million gallons of water per day, with 135 million gallons deposited into Seneca Lake at high temperatures, sometimes reaching 42 degrees celsius in the summer, and 30 during the winter.

Worryingly, Greenidge has no intentions of downsizing its bitcoin mining operations. According to company CEO Jeff Kirt, "the environmental impact of the plant has never been better than it is right now", he said in the NBC News report.

He added that Greenidge buys carbon offsets to negate its impact on the environment, but no public data supports this claim, and it seems the bitcoin mining operations are having verifiable effects on the surrounding climate. In other words, the checks and balances of carbon offsets aren't mapping onto the real-world changes local residents have noticed happening to Seneca Lake.

Nascent industries may operate in climate 'grey zone' unchecked

This is a power plant executing an operation in a logistical grey area, where permits are granted to firms who aren't yet required to back up their claims of ecological salience. A watchdog organisation called Earth Justice has said Greenidge's carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions both rose by a factor of nearly 10 from January to December 2020, according to the Input report.

The organsation is taking action to drive the state of New York to reject the company's next permit renewal application, which is coming up in September.

If Greenidge doesn't change its tune, its effect on the climate could prevent the state of New York from reaching its emissions goals, according to Judith Enck, a former EPA administrator, reported Input. In the meantime, Greenidge aims to scale up its mining equipment soon, regardless of the impact its bitcoin mining efforts are having on Seneca Lake.