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Ethereum network completes merge that could cut its electricity use by 99%

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Top 3 Best Latest News:  A complex software change to the cryptocurrency Ethereum was completed on Wednesday. This has the potential to dramatically reduce energy consumption and the resulting climate impact.

A change enacted late Wednesday effectively eliminated the energy-intensive task of “mining” new coins on the blockchain for Ethereum, the world’s second most valuable cryptocurrency after Bitcoin. Did. Mining requires enormous computing power, which leads to huge energy consumption and, in many areas, old power plants increase greenhouse gas emissions.

However, while the Ethereum change itself does not eliminate the cryptocurrency’s expected environmental impact, it is expected to be of great help. So far, Bitcoin proponents have shown little interest in ditching mining.

Cryptocurrency is a type of digital money protected by cryptography, which is said to be open to the public and immutable. These currencies allow people to conduct direct financial transactions without the need for banks or other financial intermediaries.

They run on a structure called a blockchain. A blockchain consists of a digitally signed transaction record that records each time a crypto coin is transferred or used. Blockchain is also called a distributed ledger because synchronized copies are stored on computers around the world. These copies also make it very difficult to modify, insert or destroy blockchain records.

environmental toll

Researchers studying cryptocurrencies are wary of their enormous energy usage. A recent report by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy cites a finding that as of August 2022, cryptocurrencies’ annual electricity consumption will surpass that of individual countries such as Argentina and Australia. .

However, this problem is not unique to cryptocurrencies. Most of that energy is used for mining. Mining is a computationally intensive process for verifying blockchain transactions that distribute new coins as rewards to competing miners. Cryptocurrency mining favors groups with sufficient resources that can put together a number of specialized computers and power them as cheaply as possible.

This can have unexpected external effects. Demand for computer graphics cards skyrocketed, driving prices up and emptying store shelves before the cryptocurrency’s value plummeted earlier this year. Such cards turned out to be perfect for cryptocurrency mining rigs. U.S. cities and states have also opposed plans by cryptocurrency companies to build mining sites in their jurisdictions, citing noise as well as power usage.

Merging aimed at reducing computing needs

Mainly, software updates eliminate the need for miners. Ethereum used to pit miners against each other to solve complex cryptographic puzzles and earn new coins as rewards, but now, parties who want to help validate transactions need to put a certain amount of Ether, or Ethereum You have to get skins into the game by “staking” coins. .

Participants in this pool are randomly selected to validate blocks of transactions. A wider group of Ether holders then checks their work. Successful validators are typically rewarded in Ether proportional to their stake size and holding period.

The new Ethereum verification setup is said to be called a “proof of stake” system, while mining-based cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin use “proof of work.”

Ethereum mergers don’t sound like much, but they can have dramatic effects. Alex de Vries, economist and founder of Digiconomist, a consultancy focused on the environmental impact of cryptocurrencies, has calculated that the transition will save Ethereum between 99% and 99.99% of its energy. , De Vries emphasizes that his work is not. It is still peer reviewed.

“This is a very small change to the code that has a very big impact on environmental sustainability,” he said. but not now.

According to his calculations, Ethereum emits about 44 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. If he is correct, these will be greatly reduced.

On the other hand, Bitcoin’s energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions are much higher than Ethereum’s, and the move away from Bitcoin mining doesn’t seem to be gaining much momentum.

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