Fighting Climate Change with AI

2 min read

Even though the pandemic has slowed down human life and in turn, its environmental impacts, 2020 was still the hottest year on record. Climate change has not gone anywhere, and more must be done to reverse its effects. With the help of emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), the impacts of climate change can be reduced and possibly be reversed. 

Improving Climate Predictions

Mila. Image of a house in a flooded neighbourhood side by side with a house in a neighbourhood with good weather conditions. Mila, Accessed 14 February 2021.

As climate change worsens, its consequences including rising sea levels and extreme weather will cause neighbourhoods to change in appearance and conditions. Being able to predict these changes may be able to convince prominent stakeholders, such as governments, to do more in order to reverse climate change or begin preparing for these changes. Data of past effects of rising sea levels can be used to power an AI algorithm to make these predictions, as researchers for the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms have done. They have created an algorithm that can display different neighbourhoods after the impacts of climate change, as shown in the image above. Furthermore, users can now upload images of wildfires and floods to improve the algorithm’s outputs.

Another way that climate predictions are being improved include using a neural network to predict the global temperature increase for the future. Researchers from Kyoto University and Japan Science and Technology Agency published a study regarding how they used data from the past 30 years to train a Convolutional Neural Network to predict temperature increases for the planet for the next 10 years with a 97% accuracy! However, temperature changes are not the only aspect of climate change that should be tracked, as shown in the next section….

Tracking Carbon Emissions

Carbon emissions are at the heart of the issue of climate change, as the emissions lead to global warming. Recently, companies have begun to use AI to track where emissions are coming from, and in some cases, also used AI to learn how to deal with them. For instance, Carbon Tracker is a think tank that has used AI to analyze satellite imagery of fossil fuel power plants to understand which ones are the largest carbon emitters. They have worked to analyze around 5000 plants with an AI model that has an accuracy rate of nearly 90%. 

Additionally, IBM’s Green Horizons project has used an AI algorithm to track air pollution to its sources in China, and determine effective methods of lowering it. These methods can include recommendations to reduce the number of drivers or closing specific power plants.

Furthermore, not only can AI be used to track climate issues, but it can be a part of making climate solutions more efficient as well…. 

Increasing Energy Efficiency

One of the issues with incorporating renewable energy at a larger scale into our society is the problem of energy efficiency. However, this is an issue that can be resolved using AI! For example, companies that generate wind power have begun using AI to create more power with every rotation of the turbine. This is done by incorporating weather and operational data into the turbines movements, to optimize their efficiency. For instance, wind turbines that are in front of others can often slow down the wind as it passes through the turbine. With AI, the turbines behind the front row can learn of the changes to wind speed and direction and then adjust accordingly. This is just one of the ways that AI can make renewable energy more efficient!

Key Takeaways

  • AI can be used to improve climate predictions which includes predicting changes to neighbourhood conditions and global temperature rises.
  • It can also be used to track down the sources of carbon emissions and identify the most effective methods of lowering them.
  • AI is able to make renewable energy, especially wind power, more efficient.

Although advancements in technology from the industrial revolution have led to climate change, that doesn’t mean that technology won’t be able to solve this global issue as well. With further AI implementation, the effects of global warming could be reduced.

Leave a comment down below regarding your views on how AI is helping to combat climate change! Do you know any other ways that this powerful technology can be implemented to reduce its impacts?

Ramandeep Saini Ramandeep Saini is a writer who covers topics in emerging tech, such as artificial intelligence. She’s served as a consultant to companies such as Walmart Canada and Wealthsimple in the past, using her expertise in tech to guide them towards their corporate goals. In her free time, she runs an art blog and enjoys volunteering with local nonprofits.

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