“The merge,” which is the name for the transition event taking place in early September, is expected to drastically reduce the amount of energy needed to support Ethereum, according to an information resource site funded by the Ethereum Foundation. “The Merge is the most significant upgrade in the history of Ethereum. Extensive testing and bug bounties were undertaken to ensure a safe transition to proof-of-stake,” reads the information. “This process is in its final stages, with plans to undergo The Merge on a few public testnets before finally moving forward with Mainnet.”
While the historic event is expected to slash energy usage by more than 99.9%—present operations use “proof-of-work” (PoW) mining that involves complex computing operations relying on heavy power usage—the event, however, will not significantly reduce gas fees related to Ethereum transactions nor will it noticeably improve the speed of transactions, notes the organization.
"There are REAL risks that the Ethereum merge will experience turbulence. I expect it to be a nail-biter, but with so many independently developed clients, some failure and much success is likely. Remember that the price doesn’t matter: It’s a lagging indicator of success. #WAGMI"
The transition, though, does come with some risk. Developers compared the historic event to the complexities of a spaceship switching engines mid-flight. “Imagine Ethereum is a spaceship that isn’t quite ready for an interstellar voyage. With the Beacon Chain, the community has built a new engine and a hardened hull. After significant testing, it’s almost time to hot-swap the new engine for the old mid-flight,” reads information from developers. “This will merge the new, more efficient engine into the existing ship, ready to put in some serious lightyears and take on the universe.”
The shift away from PoW mining has been lauded by environmental groups hoping to reduce energy consumption associated with cryptocurrency mining. Bitcoin, for example, which employs PoW mining, has drawn much criticism for its energy-intensive operations. As such, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has called for governments around the world to help facilitate a transition away from PoW, much like Ethereum is doing now.
“It’s likely legally difficult for governments to outlaw ‘proof of work’ infrastructure, but there are ways the government could incentivize switching over to the less computationally intensive (and therefore less carbon-consuming) verification process,” reads information from the environmental advocacy group. “The switch, however, would require significant structural changes to the network. While the task at hand seems large, the crypto community does appear to be reading the room.”
According to information from Digiconomist, Ethereum’s annual electrical energy footprint is approximately 72.14 terawatt-hours, which puts it on par with the power consumption of the entire country of Columbia. Further, its carbon footprint checks in at 40.24 metric tons, which is comparable to that of the nation of Switzerland.
"Cardano Founder Charles Hoskinson says the Vasil Hard Fork is set for September The Ethereum Merge may be right around the corner—but so is Cardano’s #VasilHardFork. #Cardano is a peer-reviewed proof-of-stake blockchain"
Developers have also noted those holding Ethereum will not need to do anything ahead of the merger. Further, they warn holders to remain vigilant for scammers who may try to take advantage of misinformation surrounding the event.
“Despite swapping out proof-of-work, the entire history of Ethereum since genesis remains intact and unaltered after the transition to proof-of-stake. Any funds held in your wallet before The Merge will still be accessible after The Merge. No action is required to upgrade on your part,” they note. “As we approach The Merge of Ethereum Mainnet, you should be on high alert for scams trying to take advantage of users during this transition. Do not send your ETH anywhere in an attempt to ‘upgrade to ETH2.’ There is no ‘ETH2’ token, and there is nothing more you need to do for your funds to remain safe.”