The Merge has been promised for nearly a decade now. And now The Merge is going to happen… soon, possibly in two weeks. The Merge is risky, complicated, and controversial. The Merge might revolutionise the crypto industry, salvage the bottomed-out value of your NFT wallet, and make web3 projects more common, easily scalable – and hugely more climate-friendly. Wait – what is The Merge again?
The Merge is a long-promised upgrade to the Ethereum blockchain platform, and would mark a significant change in the way that it works. If you’ve bought an NFT, there’s a good chance it was on the Ethereum blockchain. Simply put: the Merge will mean that the Ethereum blockchain will use much less computational energy; which will assuage the fears of those who have pointed out that blockchains are highly energy-intensive. Digiconomist, for instance, calculates Ethereum’s yearely power consumption as being equivalent to, erm, the country of Chile, and one transaction on the Ethereum network as being 196.79 kWh – equivalent to the power consumption of an average U.S. household over 6.65 days.
The big change is in the shift from a “proof of work” system, where transactions are created via highly energy intensive mathematical calculations, to a “proof of stake” lottery-like system (the New York Times describes it well here). If it all works, it has a number of potential upsides: beyond using much less energy, transaction fees – the “gas” fees that can spike dramatically and expensively – will be cheaper, and transactions will be faster, too.
If all goes to plan, it may mean renewed vigour in the web3 space, and that may mean whole new slew of web3 projects for the music industry to use – without the guilt that many felt over energy use.