On Wednesday night, a few minutes before midnight, ethereum officially adopted proof of stake. Its carbon footprint is expected to reduce over 99%.
Daniel Van Boom
Sept. 15, 2022
On Tuesday morning, the ethereum blockchain guzzled about the same amount of electricity as the entirety of Chile. Minutes before midnight PT, the blockchain's energy requirements dropped by over 99%. After eight years of preparation, ethereum adopted a proof-of-work model, meaning the electricity-intensive method of minting ether cryptocurrency tokens is a thing of the past.
That move, known as "the Merge," is of huge consequence. Cryptocurrency skeptics typically argue that coins like bitcoin and ether are useless, and that they consume enormous amounts of electricity. The first point is polarizing and subjective, but the second is unequivocally true. In an era when more people than ever view climate change mitigation as society's highest priority, the carbon emissions of bitcoin and ethereum are too conspicuous to ignore.
Ethereum's switch to proof of stake has been planned since 2014, before the blockchain was officially deployed. Because of its technical complexity, and the increasingly large amount of money at risk, it's been delayed multiple times. The Merge is part of what was previously called "ether 2.0," a series of upgrades that reshape the blockchain's foundations.
"This is the first step in ethereum's big journey toward being a very mature system, and there's still steps to go," ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin said on a YouTube livestream following the completion of the Merge. "We still have to scale, we still have to fix privacy, we still have to make the thing secure for regular users, we all need to work hard and do our part."
Buterin called the Merge "the difference between early stage ethereum and the ethereum we've always wanted."