Ethereum is writing a history this week. The blockchain technology has been upgraded to transition from the intensive energy-consuming model proof of work mining system, to emissions-saving one called proof of stake.
The merge has been estimated by the Ethereum platform to be cutting its carbon emissions by more than 99.9%. The estimated Ethereum transactions’ emissions in 2021 amounted to 47 million metric tons which equates to the carbon footprint of a whole country like Finland.
The transition is known as “the Merge” and has been updated between September 13 and 15.
“And we finalized!… Happy merge all. This is a big moment for the Ethereum ecosystem,” confirmed Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin in a tweet on Thursday.
The update will solve the issue with the difficulty of Ethereum or the amount of time it takes for a miner to solve a problem to create a new block on the blockchain. Usually this is an extremely energy consuming process.
The machines used by the miners race to solve a complex equation and they’re doing it at a very high speed, hoping at some point they will find the answer that fits the requirements. The first one to get it right creates the next block in the blockchain, and gets the reward associated with it.
The proof of stake system functions like a lottery and picks one machine to work – a process that doesn’t take much energy.
According to some experts in the field, there is a chance that if the Ethereum transition to a proof of stake is successful, other cryptos might follow suit. The Bitcoin network, for example, emits an estimated 71.5 megatonnes of CO2 per year which is far higher than Ethereum’s 47 megatonnes.
It is more complicated for the Bitcoin network to adopt proof of stake as its leadership is decentralized – its founder is famously anonymous, and the switch would have to be approved by the thousands operators of the Bitcoin “nodes”.
The Ethereum merge is a major climate change event as it saves an enormous amount of carbon emissions. It is also one of the biggest shift the crypto world has ever seen that marks a milestone in the historical development of the technology.