99.95% Less Energy
The Ethereum Merge is 4 days, 2 hours, and 39 minutes away. This info is courtesy of the widget Google shows when you search “eth merge.” It’s incredible how far blockchain tech has come in the last few years. Google is building widgets to keep track of its milestones. The ups and downs of the markets and public sentiment distract from the technology’s steady ascension into mainstream culture. It has a long way to go, but its progress is impossible to ignore.
99.95% Less Energy Usage
If the estimated timing is correct, the Merge will happen sometime late in the day this coming Wednesday. Once mainnet merges with the Beacon Chain, the network will immediately consume 99.95% less energy. The immediate impact of such a striking reduction in energy consumption is obvious—but there is a subtle secondary effect that I expect to play out over the coming years.
One of the largest sources of pushback against major blockchains, Ethereum and Bitcoin for the most part, has been disapproval of the excessive energy consumption of Proof of Work as a consensus mechanism. Many have tried to argue against the mainstream skepticism of these networks’ energy usage from an ever-shifting position—that the energy usage is necessary, that it doesn’t have as significant an impact as claimed, that it can be mitigated by targeting stranded energy, that it would spur the transition to renewables, that it would highlight the need for nuclear as part of the energy mix, and so on.
One by one, these arguments have not been successful. From my perspective, this is because each of these arguments attempts to override a popular social notion: The climate is changing, and we need to be mindful of energy usage.
You can argue with this statement if you would like, and I’m sure many could argue why it’s wrong or misguided in some ways. But no cohesive argument will get around the fact that most people will not study the data to inform themselves one way or the other—and this sentiment is something that many people feel in their bones. The mainstream will reject anything that runs contrary to this notion. Blockchains will have to adapt—as Ethereum is doing.
The Secondary Effect—Shifting Media Sentiment Leading to Further Mainstream Adoption
In the coverage leading up to the Merge, mainstream media outlets that have been previously critical of Ethereum, and blockchains in general, have already started to shift their coverage into a more positive light.
The Merge will not eliminate all the criticism because this tech contradicts some people’s vision of how a society should be organized (centralized vs. decentralized). But it will help tone down the vitriol that has characterized so much of the discussion of blockchain tech for the past few years. With a more rational discourse, we have a better chance to talk about the real obstacles to innovation and adoption over the coming decades. Watch for the shift in media sentiment to increase mainstream adoption and a broader acceptance in mainstream culture—now that the energy criticism has been mitigated.
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