What is the Ethereum merge and how will it impact the blockchain?

A big change is set to hit the crypto space, with a long-anticipated upgrade to the Ethereum blockchain. The upgrade, known as the Ethereum merge, will see the blockchain move from its current energy-intensive system to a more environmentally friendly mechanism. The non-profit Ethereum Foundation claims this upgrade will lead to more scalability, security and sustainability. The merge is set to occur between 10 and 20 September. It is being hailed by some as a leap forward that will tackle the common crypto criticism of high energy use. However, some experts have argued that there are still various challenges that the merge fails to address. Currently, Ethereum works on a proof-of-work system, which is a decentralised consensus mechanism. It is maintained through the act of ‘mining’. In simple terms, this involves solving complex equations to create new coins and validate transactions on a blockchain network. This is also the method behind the popular cryptocurrency, bitcoin. The process of crypto mining has been long criticised for the amount of energy it uses. A New York Times analysis last year claimed bitcoin mining consumes around 91 terawatt-hours of electricity annually, which is more than all of Finland.

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