A software change purports to greatly reduce energy consumption and thereby pollution in the cyber-banking world. But the transition—known as “the merge” and being rolled out by a single cryptocurrency brand—won’t fix pollution by itself.
The biggest and most established cryptocurrency brand is Bitcoin. Ether, tracked on the blockchain technology Ethereum, is a not-too-distant second. Ethereum has come up with a solution for its contribution to the pollution problem.
Humans often downplay small fixes. Pollution is a huge problem in God’s big world, and one person’s or one company’s contribution can seem inconsequential. But Jesus calls knowing the right thing to do and not doing it sin. (James 4:17)
Cryptocurrency, or crypto, is virtual money. It allows people to buy goods and services online. There are no physical bills or coins with crypto—just complex algorithms made by energy-guzzling computers operated by techno-whizzes called miners.
Most banks and governments already use a type of virtual currency when they move money electronically. Such currencies are usually backed, tracked, and controlled by a single government entity.
But no single entity controls cryptocurrency. Unlike easily breached bank accounts and debit cards, some people insist that crypto is unhackable—partly because of a shared digital record, called a blockchain. A blockchain tracks transactions: what goes in, what goes out, and who’s involved. A blockchain can be added to as new crypto enters the system. But no one can alter what’s there and everyone can see what’s happened.
Hundreds of thousands of blockchain transactions per day require an array of high-powered computers. Verifying the transactions is called “mining.” The machines used for mining require vast amounts of electricity and constant cooling. Plus, the computers often reside in older, inefficient warehouses that pump out pollution. (Read Bitcoin’s Unintended Consequences.)
Here’s where Ethereum’s update comes in: It removes the need for miners—and the energy-hogging task of mining.
Alex de Vries studies the environmental impact of cryptocurrencies. He calculates that before the change, Ethereum was responsible for about 44 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year. The recent merge allowed the company to reduce that by over 99%!
Some analysts and environmentalists welcome the update and its potential. Others believe the transition brings Ethereum closer to centralization and therefore makes its crypto less safe. Still others point out that big boy Bitcoin’s energy usage and pollution emission are drastically larger than Ethereum’s—and Bitcoin seems permanently settled on mining.
Bottom line: Ethereum’s ditching of its miners won’t eliminate all pollution, but it might make a dent.
Why? Jesus affirms being faithful in small things. (Luke 16:10) Even small steps toward improvements should be considered and, if wise, implemented.
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How is everybody?
Creating a New Problem
I don't quite understand. The article says, "operated by techno-whizzes called miners." Are these 'techno-whizzes' humans? If so, while they are reducing pollution by removing the miners, they are also laying many people off of their jobs for something that they can't help. If I am wrong, I would love clarification, but it sounds to me as if they are hurting a lot of families in the process.
I like the verse at the end. We really need to be grateful for what we have.