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Why Ethereum’s Merge Means Crypto That’s Much Greener

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What To Know About The Ethereum Merge
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Where does money come from? In the case of dollars, they are printed by the US Mint. For cryptocurrencies, the answer is more complicated. From the time of their birth, the digital tokens with the biggest market value, Bitcoin and Ether, were only issued to pay for tasks performed by so-called miners in what are known as “proof-of-work” systems. It’s an approach that has drawn increasing criticism for the large amounts of energy consumed and pollution produced. That changed on Sept. 15, when Ethereum, the platform that runs the Ether coin, switched to a system called “proof of stake” in a major upgrade known as the “Merge.” Proponents say the approach will cut Ethereum’s electricity use by 99%. 

Cryptocurrencies wouldn’t work without blockchain, a relatively new technology that performs the old-fashioned function of maintaining a ledger of time-ordered transactions. What’s different from pen-and-paper records is that the ledger is shared on computers all around the world. Blockchain has to take on another task not needed in a world of physical money -- making sure that no one is able to spend a cryptocurrency token more than once by manipulating the digital ledger. Blockchains operate without a central guardian, such as a bank, in charge of the ledger: Both proof-of-work and proof-of-stake systems rely on group action to order and safeguard a blockchain’s sequential record.