Artificial Intelligence- A silver lining to help fight climate change
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Artificial Intelligence- A silver lining to help fight climate change

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Climate change impacts are worsening over time. As we have seen, the Amazon Forest Fires that took place over the past year are known to be a global tragedy. A huge number of species, close to 20%, are now on the verge of extinction, and this number could keep increasing. Also, the average global temperatures are said to rise by 3 degrees Celsius when compared to the pre-industrial times. 

But today, we have the advantage of Artificial Intelligence. A tool that can help us manage this catastrophe; climate change. 

Let us look at some ways in which AI is already making an impact to help save our planet and some companies which have adopted these tools. 

Showing the effects of extreme weather- 

Not every part of the world has faced the effects of climate change and a rise in temperatures, just yet. But some homeowners have already faced the severity. Researchers from Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA), Microsoft, and Consistent AI Labs have started to make use of GAN’s (generative adversarial network). This is a type of AI that helps stimulate what homes would look like if they were damaged by the rise of sea levels and storms. 

MILA Researchers have met with NGO’s and Montreal City Officials to discuss the use of this AI tool. They are eager to help people understand what their neighborhoods would look like if they were damaged by climate change. The tool is not yet fully functional. It would need to collect more data, but they plan on making an app where people can upload pictures of floods and fires. This data can then be further used by the algorithm. 

Victor Schmidt, a Ph.D. Candidate at MILA said that their goal is not to convince people that climate change is real but to get people who believe in it to do more. 

Measuring where Carbon is coming from- 

Monitoring carbon emissions with the use of satellite imagery, carbon tracker uses gathered data to convince the financial industry that coal plants are not profitable. It is an independent think-tank that is working towards the UN’s goal of stopping new coal plants from being built by the year 2020. 

AI can be used to automate the analysis of images of power plants and get regular updates on emissions. New ways to measure a plant’s impact by tracking numbers of nearby infrastructure and electricity use can also be introduced with the help of AI. Carbon tracker will track about 4000-5000 plants in order to gather more data than it currently has, thus improving it’s functioning. 

Smart Irrigation Systems conserve water- 

Using water without really paying attention to how much we may be wasting has become part of our daily routine. But in today’s world, we need to become more aware of our consumption levels. An average American household uses about 320 gallons of water per day, and 30% of that goes into maintaining landscapes. 

Smart Irrigation systems that use AI technology, can help save up to 8,800 gallons of water per home, per year. And about 120 gallons across America. 

Skydrop is one such product, it is run on a wireless internet connection. It stays up to date with local weather and collects data so that it knows when it should not water your lawn. For example, during a downpour. It is similar to Nest and gathers data based on the customer’s preference rather than just being set on a timer. It also uses technology which can help tell us the moisture level in the soil. 

Smart thermostats regulate energy consumption-

All of us use heating and cooling systems in our homes and offices on a day to day basis without knowing the impact. They account for almost half the average residential energy use and demand a lot of energy usage as well. Nest has come up with a smart thermostat known as Nest’s Learning Thermostat. By using  this,  we’ll be able to save money and the planet too. 

Smart thermostats basically are able to automatically adjust your indoor temperature settings based on the data of external humidity. The device uses a Wi-Fi connection in order to be able to check what the outside weather is like. The AI tools are also able to track user behavior and make manual adjustments based on previous use and learn our preferences and become better at adapting the temperature to its user’s needs over a period of time. Using this saves at least 10% of energy on heating and roughly 15% on cooling, per year. 

Making cities more livable and sustainable-

Artificial Intelligence can improve energy efficiency by incorporating data from smart meters and the IoT (Internet of things) by enabling devices to send and receive data to help forecast data. 

AI systems can simulate potential zoning laws, flood plains, to help in being prepared in case of a natural disaster. In China, IBM’s Green Horizon project is using AI systems that are able to forecast air pollution, track pollution sources and produce potential strategies to deal with it. 

AI is able to simulate climate and explore strategies to test how to ease heat waves. If a city wants to plant new trees, this AI model will be able to determine the best place to plant these trees in order to get optimal tree cover and reduce heat. 

Here are a few companies already using AI to tackle climate change- 

  1. Google: In a statement, Google explained how it’s efficiency has improved and how value-wind farms are improving by 20% with the use of Artificial Intelligence to schedule energy deliveries based on predictability models. As a result, they are less reliable on fossil fuels.
  2. SilverTerra: Powered by the funds and technology provided by Microsoft, SilverTerra is able to use AI and Satellite imagery to predict the size and health of forest trees. This can be used to ensure that trees remain healthy and continue to grow well.
  3. DHL and IBM: 23% of the global greenhouse gas emissions are caused due to transportation. DHL and IBM have teamed up to use AI to be able to improve DHL’s global logistics operations. This can be very beneficial, as, between 1970 and 2004, there was a 120% increase in emissions of the transport and logistics sector. 

These are just a few ways through which Artificial Intelligence can be used to fight climate change. The future of our planet depends on how we are able to make use of the advancement in technology to make a difference. You can up skill with Great Learning’s PGP in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

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