At Play It Green, we love to focus on the positives when it comes to sustainability!
There is so much good going on in the world, why focus on the negatives and cause anxiety when we can all focus on the positives and create hope!
Sustainability may seem to be overwhelming sometimes, but if we focus on what we can do and make the small changes, over time, together we can achieve anything.
This week wemake a change from the usual three top news stories and we focus on just one, that could have positive implications across the globe and into the future!
We look at what some are calling “the merge” and how a software change to the cryptocurrency Ethereum has the potential to dramatically reduce the currency’s energy consumption and the environmental impact that this causes.
What is Crypto-Currency and why is it damaging the planet?
The first cryptocurrency was eCash, which was developed in 1990 by David Chaum’s business DigiCash.
Before Bitcoin, numerous initiatives to develop a workable and widely-accepted cryptocurrency were made.
eCash, B-money, Bit Gold, and Hashcash all had a significant impact on the development of Bitcoin.
Crypto currency (Bitcoin) functions on systems known as blockchains, which are collections of records of digitally signed transactions that show each time a cryptocurrency is transferred or spent.
Due to the synchronised copies that are kept on computers all over the world, which also make it incredibly impossible to change, add, or remove blockchain entries, blockchains are sometimes referred to as distributed ledgers.
The massive amount of energy that cryptocurrency uses alarms researchers who have studied it.
According to studies referenced in a recent report by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, as of August 2022, the yearly electricity usage for cryptocurrencies was greater than that of individual countries like Argentina or Australia.
But this issue isn’t just the cryptocurrencies themselves.
Ethereum is the world’s 2nd largest Crypto-Currency
Mining is bad – even when it comes to Crypto-Currency
A lot of the energy consumed is used for mining, which is a computationally demanding procedure for authenticating blockchain transactions and distributing fresh coins as compensation to rival miners.
The mining of cryptocurrencies is favoured by well-funded organisations that can assemble a lot of specialised computers and provide them with electricity as cheaply as possible.
This has led to a shortage of the graphics cards used to mine crypto and increased energy use.
The crypto mining centres also cause noise pollution as well as an increased footprint through energy use.
Last Wednesday, the energy-intensive process of “mining” new currencies on a blockchain has now been effectively removed for Ethereum, the second most valued cryptocurrency in the world behind bitcoin.
By changing and upgrading the software, Ethereum has effectively removed any need for miners.
In the previous model, crypto miners competed against each other to solve complex crypto puzzles and win new coins as a reward.
However, now people who want to validate transactions have to ‘stake’ a certain amount of their ether (the Ethereum coin).
People from this group are then randomly selected to validate a block of transactions and a wider group of ether holders will then check the work.
People who successfully validate transactions are then paid a reward in ether that is roughly in proportion to the size of their ‘stake’ and the length of time it has been in their possession.
A stack of graphics cards being used to mine Crypto-Currency
Significant positive environmental consequences
According to calculations made by economist and creator of the Digiconomist consultancy, Alex de Vries, the switch will save Ethereum between 99 and 99.99 percent of its energy use.
(It should be pointed out that De Vries underlines that no peers have yet reviewed his work.)
“It’s a really small change to the code that’s going to have a very big impact on environmental sustainability,” said De Vries.
Before ‘the merge’, Ethereum mining was creating up to 900 billion calculations per second!
This will no longer be needed!
De Vries calculated that the annual carbon dioxide emissions caused by Ethereum were around 44 million metric tonnes.
If he’s right, this will now be a huge amount less by our calculations the new footprint will be around 440,000 metric tonnes as opposed the previous 44,000,000 tonnes.
You can already use Ethereum to pay for hotel bookings, flight packages and train tickets.
You can even purchase products on Amazon using Ethereum if you have a ‘Bitpay’ account!
This is an amazing change that will have a significant positive impact not just for the present but for the future.
As crypto is likely to be the currency of choice moving forward for web 3.0 and with mobile technology and a cashless society being a distinct possibility, this gives those that wish to be more sustainable a clear choice!
Finally, you can use a crypto currency with the confidence that it’s impact on the planet is extremely low – a greener crypto currency in a market of polluting currency shines a light on how our future can be sustainable!