Last week, on the heels of the Merge, a complex plan to replace Ethereum’s architecture without disrupting the multibillion-dollar cryptocurrency network, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin reshared data indicating that “global electricity consumption” might be lowered by 0.2% as a result.
This argument, raised by Ethereum researcher Justin Drake, has been picked up by US politicians, engineers, and the ETH community, who are correct to celebrate the network’s significantly lower carbon footprint. Proof-of-stake, Ethereum’s new transaction processing algorithm, would utilize around 99% less power than Ethereum’s previous proof-of-work (PoW) system.
Before the Merge, Drake calculated that Ethereum’s overall energy consumption was roughly 0.34% of the global total. Many mining computers that previously supplied hash power to Ether immediately went to rival PoW blockchains.
Ethereum may be far more energy-efficient than just a week ago. Still, the question today is whether its PoW-based competitors will expand to the same size. According to Digiconomist, a normally critical economics blog operated by Alex de Vries, Ethereum mining consumed approximately 72 terawatt-hours per year, roughly the same as the country of Austria.
ETH has completed the first round of its multi-stage upgrade. Hence, the proof-of-work Bitcoin is under increasing pressure to decarbonize. “Bitcoin will be the center of attention. It is still the most significant polluter in the crypto space. Even today, Bitcoin accounts for the same amount of electricity used as Sweden.
This sentiment came from the Environmental Working Group (EWG). It stated that following the Merge, Bitcoin is the “lone cryptocurrency climate polluter.” EWG intends to spend another $1 million on propaganda aimed at inspiring or coercing the Bitcoin community to reduce the network’s energy use.
According to the Bitcoin Mining Council, a data supplier, and advocate for the industry, Bitcoin consumes 189 TWh. It accounts for less than 0.2% of global energy usage, or roughly the same amount that Ethereum should have saved. That is less than half the energy used by the gold or banking industries. Furthermore, unlike other PoW chains such as Ethereum Classic or Ethereum PoW, Bitcoin is expected to be able to continue subsidizing its security expenditure.
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