No, Proof-of-Stake is not an “improvement” of Proof-of-Work
No, Proof-of-Stake is not an “improvement” of Proof-of-Work
septembre 16 2022
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The Merge is done.

It was (probably) a good thing for Ethereum.

However, let’s not push the PoS narrative further than that: it is not an “improvement” of the PoW, it is an alternative consensus that is yet to prove itself on a big scale and over time.

Some of the concerns surrounding PoS have only been amplified by Ethereum, like the fact that 61% of staked ETH are already controlled by only 4 entities, out of which 3 are centralized. Sure, validating mechanism tries to randomize block adding and validating, but collusion is still one of the risks that the PoW version did not have.

🗞️ PoW is a robust consensus that works, but the technicalities do not seem to bother most journalists who praised the Merge is most definitive terms:

“A move towards sustainability in the crypto-currency industry” (WEF)

“The technology is about to radically improve” (The Economist)

“More energy-efficient infrastructure” (New York Times)

“A new era of greener cryptos” (Euronews)

Most social media users also happily relay the “good news for the planet”, helping to skew the PoW and mining debate even further. And this is not good.

⛏️ Crypto mining is one of the most unfairly treated industries, despite its being the greenest (60% coming from renewables) and one of the few able to incentivize green energy development in remote places with no other economic stimuli. It is mining that maintains Bitcoin secure, and what’s more, at a much smaller energy cost than the fiat system.

It is unreasonable to try and ban a service because it consumes energy. Everything does:

🔋 Bitcoin mining uses around 100 TWh/year.

🔋 Netflix streaming (devices, network infrastructure and data centres) uses somewhere between 20 and 200 TWh/year, according to different studies (IEA and Shift project).

🔋 Now think of Youtube with its billion of hours watched daily, trillions of stored emails, streaming video games, zoom meetings…

All these services consume a lot of energy (and it is significantly less green than Bitcoin’s). However, last week the US government threatened to ban only Bitcoin mining “if it doesn’t reduce its GHG”, and the almost-passed EU regulation earlier this year intended to ban only Bitcoin due to “environmental concerns”.

All in all, maybe the best consequence of the Merge is that it will take Ethereum off the politicians’ “environmental” radar.

Bad PR for Bitcoin though, as the mining narrative is quickly escaping the realm of facts and passing into the “pure evil” territory.

Let’s try to get hold of it ✊