Climate change action using AI
Can we use artificial intelligence (AI), the most powerful tool that humanity has at its disposal, to tackle climate change, the most pressing problem humanity faces today?
According to the Forbes article, several emerging AI start-ups help companies decarbonise or reach their net-zero carbon goals. These AI businesses offers services that range from providing climate insurance coverage, carbon offsets and accounting, providing climate intelligence to guide investments and resilience-building projects, help electric grids efficiency to reduce emissions, support the agriculture sector reduce their GHG, and help mitigate the risk of fires and bolster firefighting efforts.
According to the article, the world has reached an “inflection point” in the relationship between climate change and capitalism. Many of the world’s largest businesses have started to commit to reduce emissions and set a net-zero emissions target.
Companies have begun to adopt practices to reduce their carbon footprint, asset managers have made climate change a crucial part of their investment decisions. In contrast, Government banks have taken policy actions that included climate change as a systematic risk.
This transformation has opened a flow of capital towards climate initiatives. Climate change has become a pressing matter globally as well as a business opportunity.
The National Geographic reports that the biggest names in AI and machine learning published a paper, “Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning,” as an opportunity to help the cause to fight climate change. The authors presented the paper during a major AI conference in June 2017.
According to the article, “The paper offers up 13 areas where machine learning can be deployed, including energy production, CO2 removal, education, solar geoengineering, and finance. Within these fields, the possibilities include more energy-efficient buildings, creating new low-carbon materials, better monitoring of deforestation, and greener transportation.”
AI is not a silver bullet, says David Rolnick, one of the paper’s authors, but it brings new insights to the climate change problem.
There are three ways machine learning can help tackle climate change:
- provide better climate prediction from improving prediction of extreme events to unlocking insights from the massive amounts of complex climate simulations generated by climate models,
- showing the effects of extreme weather to drive actions, and
- measuring where carbon is coming from.
According to the article, a grant from Google is expanding Carbon Tracker’s satellite imagery efforts to include gas-powered plants on top of tracking emissions from coal-powered plants around the world to get a better understanding of where the air pollution is coming from. Monitoring systems from Carbon Tracker can be used worldwide especially in areas that are not monitoring.