A SuperWorld Guide to the Ethereum Merge
Learn more about how SuperWorld & Ethereum are working to build a better world.
On September 15, 2022, The Ethereum blockchain successfully transitioned to a new method for executing transactions, a process known as “The Merge.” For years, eager followers of blockchain tech and crypto awaited the merger of Ethereum's original execution layer (the genesis Mainnet) with its new proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus layer, the Beacon Chain, and now that it’s been put in place, it’s time to have a look at exactly what the Merge entails, and what it means for the future of Web3.
The Merge represents a significant upgrade to the network's core technology. In addition to addressing environmental concerns, PoS introduced a new function for the Ethereum native ether (ETH) token in the form of staking, along with increased scalability, protection, and longevity.
The Beacon Chain initially shipped separately from Ethereum Mainnet. Ethereum Mainnet - with all its accounts, balances, smart contracts, and blockchain state - continued to be safeguarded by proof-of-work even as the Beacon Chain ran in parallel using proof-of-stake. The Merge was when these two systems finally came together, and proof-of-work was permanently switched out for proof-of-stake.
Ethereum's energy consumption has dropped by 99.9%, making it one of a growing number of green blockchains, and taking a significant step towards its vision of full scalability, security, and sustainability
Proof-of-stake (PoS) vs. Proof-of-work (PoW)
PoS and PoW methodologies differ in how they select the next “block” of network transactions to be logged on the Ethereum blockchain. PoS advocates maintain that PoW mining concentrates control in the hands of those who can afford expensive cryptocurrency mining equipment; conversely, PoW advocates maintain that PoS staking comes with its own centralization and security issues, and encourages those inclined to “buy” control of the network.
Until the Merge, Ethereum's PoW architecture (like Bitcoin’s) rewarded aggressive–and environmentally devastating–mining in a mad dash to verify blocks. Within the PoS system post-Merge, blocks on Ethereum are now created by randomly selected validators who staked at least 32 ETH in a show of good faith. That said, the more ETH one stakes, the more likely one is to be selected as a validator, and likewise receives compensation for safeguarding the network. On one level, there is a Hobson’s choice at play, in that the Merge was never going to satisfy everybody.
However, as SuperWorld is dedicated to building a better world on Earth through Metaverse tech, the environmental benefits that accompany the Merge far outweigh any immediate pitfalls.
Justin Drake, a research scientist with the Ethereum Foundation, has summed up the environmental benefits of the Merge in a succinct way: “The metaphor that I use is this idea of switching out an engine from a running car. I like to think of it as kind of like the switch from gasoline to electric.” And while metaphors will only take us so far, from any standpoint, the change from PoW to PoS.will be–and has been–dramatic, illustrated in the “Ethereum Energy Consumption” chart below:
Like the majority of NFTs, SuperWorld virtual real estate tokens are sold on the Ethereum blockchain. And while we’ve put social impact projects aimed at helping mitigate our carbon footprint (such as our partnership with One Tree Planted) into place, the move to PoS means that the carbon impact of buying an NFT on Ethereum has been drastically reduced.
As both a form of environmental atonement and future-forward thinking that bends green, ConsenSys, a firm whose software was critical in implementing the Merge, co-launched the Ethereum Climate Platform (ECP) this month at COP27, the UN’s Climate Change Global Innovation Conference. Along with over a dozen other firms, the ECP has pledged to further efforts to promote and develop eco-friendly blockchains and to counteract environmental harm done prior to the Merge.
And so far, the numbers remain good. The carbon footprint of one transaction on Ethereum has been slashed from 109.71 kg to 0.01 kg, and that goes a long way toward building a better world.
SuperWorld is a virtual world in augmented reality (AR), digitally mapped over the surface of the Earth. Plots of SuperWorld land are represented as non-fungible tokens (NFT) corresponding to real world space. Any user in SuperWorld can explore and create AR content, engage in a virtual real estate marketplace, or buy and sell NFTs in the SuperWorld NFT Salon. Visit SuperWorldapp.com