- Adrian Grenier of HBO's "Entourage" believes that fiat currencies like the U.S. dollar are on the way out, and bitcoin is poised to take their spot.
- Grenier on bitcoin mining's carbon footprint: "Everything that we do has an environmental cost. There are externalities to absolutely everything. And just because something has an externality does not mean that it's a net detriment. I think that bitcoin has a net benefit."
Actor Adrian Grenier of "Entourage" believes that fiat currencies like the U.S. dollar are on the way out, and bitcoin is poised to take their spot.
While Grenier is the first to admit that he's not a crypto expert, the actor does have a pretty large megaphone, and as of late, he's using it to extol the virtues of digital coins such as bitcoin.
"You're going to see the adoption rate increase exponentially over time, but you're also seeing bitcoin as future dollars, as opposed to bitcoin," he told CNBC in an interview. "Where we need to get to philosophically is that it's not going to eventually become dollars, it's just going to be bitcoin."
CNBC met up with Grenier in Miami last month at what was billed as the biggest bitcoin event in history. A lot of people there affectionately shouted out "Vince!" as they walked by Grenier – an HBO reference, for the uninitiated – but many had no clue that he cared about bitcoin.
But Grenier genuinely jibes with the philosophical priorities of many in the bitcoin network.
"The mainstream sentiment is that bitcoin is about making money...and sure that that does happen, but really, what is at the heart of bitcoin, and all decentralized currencies, is an ethos and a philosophy around decentralizing our ability to connect with one another in various ways, exchange value, and be owners and have more sovereignty in the world's wealth, taking it out of the hands of the gatekeepers and the centralized banks," he said
It is that kind of thinking that makes the community especially robust, according to Grenier. "That can't be reckoned with," he said.
It isn't surprising that Grenier has joined ranks with a group of people who value rebellion, as Grenier himself has gone against the Hollywood grain for years. In 2020, the actor gave up the scene entirely, trading in his A-list city life for a farm in Bastrop, Texas – population circa 8,776. He is now permaculture certified and teaching himself how to tend to the land.
The 45-year-old says he quit acting as his day job – though a trailer for his latest film did drop this week – so that he could focus on getting back to basics and appreciating nature. But in the process of going offline, Grenier has plugged into a pool of the most technologically savvy people on the planet. One can't help but note the irony.
When Grenier relocated, he also decided to start his own mini-community. The actor purchased land with the intention of inviting people to come build and live there. As Grenier describes it, he and those who join him would work together to be more sovereign. They would grow food and share it.
They'd also use their own decentralized currencies, in order to "trade with one another very, very hyper-locally."
"And that's what bitcoin does: it gives that level of transparency, hyper localization, and access to everybody within the community," he said.
Grenier says that he got serious about investing in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies this year. Although the price of bitcoin is trading at roughly half of its all-time high, the virtual currency is still up more than 230% from a year ago. But price really doesn't matter to the actor.
"I like the technology – the decentralization of bitcoin, which gives more access to more people," he said.
"I'm also spending it and trying to use it in the real world," he said. "Right now, bitcoin is so volatile because it's new, and people are looking at it as a trade...Eventually, it's going to settle down and it's going to be the currency that we use."
Grenier may be bullish on bitcoin, but for him, it's not bitcoin or bust.
"I believe in innovation. So if there are technologies that come around to disrupt or challenge bitcoin, I say, 'So be it.' That's good for everybody. There will be winners and losers, but we all win when we're democratized and when everybody has access," he said.
The environmental conundrum
Grenier has spent twenty years championing environmental causes of all varieties, from the United Nations' "Clean Seas" campaign to Blueland's zero plastic laundry pods, a company he is also backing through his impact investing fund DuContra Ventures.
But to some critics, backing bitcoin undoes all that good.
Creating new bitcoin, a process referred to as 'mining,' involves a global network of computers working together to churn out new coins. This requires a great deal of power, and there is a charged debate underway now about how that collective energy draw affects the environment.
One of the key sticking points is that energy consumption is not equivalent to carbon emissions. While it is relatively easy to determine the amount of energy that is consumed by the bitcoin network, it is much harder to determine its carbon footprint.
An accurate read of bitcoin's carbon emissions would require exact knowledge of the energy mix used to generate electricity used by each bitcoin mining operation. One unit of hydropower, for example, does not have the same environmental impact as the equivalent amount of power sourced from coal.
Another big part of the debate centers around utility. A lot of people feel that keeping bitcoin decentralized and equitable as it continues to go mainstream is well worth the electricity expenditure.
"Everything that we do has an environmental cost. There are externalities to absolutely everything. And just because something has an externality does not mean that it's a net detriment. I think that bitcoin has a net benefit," said Grenier.
"Bitcoin does definitely have an environmental footprint," he says. "But let's not pooh-pooh efforts to try and make a technology that's actually going to give a lot of empowerment to people around the world."