Bitcoin and other decentralized digital forms of money, together known as cryptocurrencies, are currently the talk of the town. The total value of Bitcoin, the most recognizable and valuable cryptocurrency, is now over $1 trillion, and major Wall Street banks have been heavily investing in the market.

Meanwhile, thanks to crypto’s growing and powerful presence in Washington, politicians ranging from current New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) to former Democratic President Bill Clinton to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) are championing crypto as a growth industry. Even longtime investigative journalists like Glenn Greenwald have endorsed virtual currencies, celebrating how they can offer enhanced financial privacy.

But Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies come with an ugly cost: enormous fossil fuel consumption for a highly speculative product that has worsened inequality by generating a growing number of crypto-billionaires. This week’s Cheat Sheet focuses on crypto — what it is, what it does to the world, and how communities are responding to the crypto-takeover.