Mainstream outlets are beginning to notice the importance of the Ethereum Merge next week, which describes as a “major overhaul” that could either accelerate cryptocurrency adoption or send devastating shockwaves throughout the market if it fails.
The Merge has been in the making since the original Ethereum white paper and involves moving from an electricity-intensive proof-of-work (PoW) consensus mechanism to an efficient proof-of-stake (PoS) without any significant disruptions to the blockchain.
Forbes , an American business publication, described the no downtime upgrade as “[changing] a spaceship’s engine mid-flight.” Swan Bitcoin CEO Cory Klippsten commented the Wall Street Journal that the upgrade was like “trying fix an airplane mid-flight.”
Some outlets warned that the upgrade could pose a risk to the network and decentralized applications (DApps), on the Ethereum blockchain.
The Evening Standard in Britain suggested that cryptocurrency traders had been “holding their breath” before the Merge. A failed upgrade could place the entire cryptocurrency ecosystem at risk.
According to DefiLama, the Ethereum network accounts for approximately $150 billion of stablecoin market capital and $33 billion in total value that Ethereum-based DApps have locked up.
Anna Becker, EndoTech’s CEO and co-founder, stated to the Standard that it would be “quite difficult for the industry to sustain” if there were to be a disruption to the blockchain.
“Ethereum provides the infrastructure to allow many companies to manage their Blockchains. If something goes wrong, it will cause the industry to cease […]. This will make it difficult for the industry to survive.”
The Washington Post suggested the PoS mechanism was “less battle-tested than PoW,” and that “new vulnerabilities could possibly be found.”
John Quiggin, a journalist from Australia’s ABC, stated in his reporting that since the model was tested only on “experimental Blockchains”, there is a possibility that the Ethereum experiment could fail — possibly if larger Ether stakers ( /ETH_) find a way to manipulate it.
The consensus across outlets has been that the Ethereum upgrade will make it much more environmentally-friendly than ever before — reducing energy consumption by more that 99% according to the Ethereum Foundation.
Some believe this could put pressure on other PoW cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin ( BTC), to eventually follow their lead.
“At a moment when the world is desperate to reduce its energy consumption, Bitcoin consumes more energy each year than medium sized nations like Argentina,” stated Quiggin.
“If the Ethereum Switch succeeds, Bitcoin will be under tremendous pressure to address this problem.”
Quiggin pointed out that Tesla, an electric car manufacturer, announced last year it would no longer accept Bitcoin payments until at least half the cryptocurrency has been mined using renewable energy. Meanwhile, the New York Legislature earlier this year passed a bill to examine Bitcoin miners who use carbon-based power.
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He concluded that “One thing is certain: As the need to reduce global emissions becomes more pressing, cryptocurrencies won’t have any excuses for their egregious use of energy.”
According to CoinMarketCap, Ether currently holds the second-largest cryptocurrency market capital at $187.5 Billion, while Bitcoin has a $360 billion market.