Exit Stage Left - The Daily Gwei #377

Leaving Proof-of-Work behind for good.

One critique that Proof-of-Work has suffered from for a long time is the concerns around its impact on the environment. Of course, we all know that Ethereum is still currently using PoW with plans to merge with the PoS network next year, but until this happens we don’t really have a leg to stand on when people bring up the environmental concerns around PoW.

It will truly be a glorious day for us Ethereans when we never have to talk about Proof-of-Stake as if it’s something that’s “coming soon” because sometime next year, Ethereum will simply shed its PoW roots with The Merge and the criticisms against it using too much energy will be nullified completely. In saying that, I do expect that it will take some time for this information to be disseminated and for people to actually listen & understand that Ethereum no longer uses exorbitant amounts of energy to power its network - but we’ll get there. On top of that, there may be some people that need convincing that PoS doesn’t use mining equipment and instead uses the network’s native currency to secure itself - though this is a bit of a nuanced discussion.

I’m really happy about is that Ethereum is not going to have to fight to defend itself against all the coming attacks on PoW and mining in general - that will be Bitcoin’s battle to fight mostly alone (the minority PoW networks don’t mean much compared to Bitcoin). This is a battle that’s going to get quite ugly too because climate change is an issue that pretty much every government around the world is talking about and trying to tackle in some way. Whether you believe PoW is actually bad for the environment or not is a discussion for another day but just the narrative that PoW uses a lot of energy “wastefully” is something that can persist for quite a while. Post-merge, Ethereum may still find itself in the cross-hairs of these debates, but it won’t be a focal point.

Another thing that many of you have probably been seeing lately is the sheer amount of people who think that NFTs are “killing the environment” because they are issued on PoW Ethereum. This is simply the wrong way to think about it because Ethereum blocks are going to be mined regardless of what transactions are contained within them and thus they will use the same amount of energy. Of course, this nuance is lost on those who only have a surface-level understanding and don’t really care to learn more - but this is just another talking point that I’m looking forward to putting to bed once The Merge is complete.

All of the core developers and researchers have The Merge as their top priority for a number of reasons and getting off of PoW asap is a major one. By my own estimations, The Merge is slated to go live sometime in Q2 of 2022 but of course this launch window can always change so don’t be surprised if it does! In saying that, I personally just can’t wait until Ethereum exits the Proof-of-Work stage for good - it will truly be a wonderful day.

Have a great weekend everyone,
Anthony Sassano

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All information presented above is for educational purposes only and should not be taken as investment advice.