In a blockchain network, a consensus mechanism is a process that defines how new blocks are added to the blockchain and how they are verified. When new blocks are added to the blockchain, the consensus mechanism’s purpose is to guarantee that all nodes in the network agree on their legitimacy and that no one node can prevent new blocks from being added to the chain.
Proof-of-work (PoW) and proof-of-stake (PoS) are the most frequent consensus methods employed in today’s time for networks. Broadly they are accounting for over 90% of all transactions. New blocks are added to the blockchain under a PoW system based on the amount of effort done by miners to create them. New blocks are added to the blockchain in a PoS system based on the amount of stake held by nodes in the network.
Pollution and environmental impact as a result of the consensus-building process
Proof-of-work (PoW) and proof-of-stake (PoS) are the most common consensus processes used in cryptocurrency networks (PoS). Because of the amount of energy they take, both of these strategies have a detrimental impact on the environment. Because miners must compete with one another to generate new blocks, PoW systems need massive quantities of electricity. PoS systems also need a lot of power, although this is largely since nodes must store a lot of stakes in order to be able to mine new blocks.
Proof-of-burn (PoB) and proof-of-elapsed-time (PoET) are two recommended alternatives to PoW and PoS that have a lower environmental impact (PoET). The number of tokens burned by miners determines how many new blocks are added to the blockchain in PoB systems. PoET systems use a method of adding new blocks to the blockchain based on how long it takes to answer a cryptographic challenge. These techniques have yet to be implemented in any big cryptocurrency network, but they show promise in terms of reducing blockchain’s environmental impact.
What is a Carbon Footprint, and what does it mean?
The number of greenhouse gases generated due to the electricity required to manufacture, store, and utilise Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are known as their carbon footprint. Depending on the kind of consensus process used, the carbon footprints of various cryptocurrencies vary substantially.
The carbon footprint of bitcoin is estimated to be about 22 megatons of CO2 per year. This is lower than many other cryptocurrencies, yet it is still significant. The carbon footprint of Ethereum is estimated to be about 204 megatons of CO2 per year. This is much higher than Bitcoin’s, owing to Ethereum’s reliance on Proof-of-Work for consensus.
One of the main criticisms of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that use Proof-of-Work algorithms is that they use a lot of energy. Many people believe that more energy-efficient algorithms, such as Proof-of-Stake, should be used instead of Proof-of-Work.
It’s important to realise that a cryptocurrency’s carbon footprint isn’t only limited to the energy required to create, store, and use it. Cryptocurrencies also need power-consuming technologies, such as servers and computers. A cryptocurrency’s total carbon footprint will be the sum of all of these distinct footprints.
Proof-of-Stake algorithms use far less energy than Proof-of-Work algorithms. This is because they do not need miners using a lot of power to validate transactions. Instead, bitcoin stakeholders may vote on new blocks and transaction verification, which is known as consensus.
As a consequence, Proof-of-Stake is much more environmentally benign and sustainable than Proof-of-Work. It also eliminates the need for expensive hardware, such as ASICs, to do the same function. As a consequence, a more decentralised cryptocurrency ecosystem, in which anybody with a computer may participate, may emerge.
Proof of Stake has its own set of limits to consider, in addition to being more energy-efficient than Proof of Work. One of the most prominent criticisms of Proof-of-Stake is that it is more vulnerable to manipulation by individuals with large quantities of money. As a result, in order to avoid centralization, Proof-of-Stake algorithms must be properly developed.