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How AI Technology is Revolutionizing Climate Change Mitigation

Published on
January 16, 2024

Artificial Intelligence for a Sustainable Future

Climate change poses a formidable challenge to our planet and demands innovative solutions and collaborative efforts across society. With the surge in greenhouse gases, soaring temperatures, and extreme weather events, addressing climate change has become more crucial than ever before. Technology, particularly AI, plays a pivotal role in this fight.

With its ability to process enormous volumes of data, extracting insightful knowledge and improving predictive models, AI is aiding in the development of more efficient and sustainable solutions across industries.

One such example is Microsoft's partnership with The Nature Conservancy to use AI technology in mapping and monitoring coral reefs. By utilizing satellite and social media imageries and machine learning algorithms, they can quickly identify and track changes in coral reefs, helping to protect these vital ecosystems and enhance coral reef tourism.

In the transportation sector, AI is being used to optimize traffic flow and reduce emissions. In Singapore, AI-powered predictive modeling is used to manage and control traffic signals, resulting in a 22% decrease in travel time for vehicles and reduction in CO2 emissions.

AI's application extends to building design and construction to improve energy efficiency. By analyzing data on energy usage and building materials, AI can suggest ways to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.

But AI's role in combating climate change goes beyond specific industries. It can also assist us in understanding the complex connections between different factors that contribute to climate change.

In a compelling article by NPR, they delve into the specifics of how AI technology can help mitigate climate change impacts. Their investigation highlights numerous practical applications of AI, demonstrating its potential as a groundbreaking tool in environmental conservation

From predicting climate changes to preventing megafires, we have witnessed the remarkable capabilities of AI in addressing those challenges. Here’s to how AI technology revolutionizes climate change mitigation:

Monitoring and Predicting Climate Change

One of the primary ways AI is being used in the fight against climate change is through monitoring and predicting its impact. By analyzing data from satellites, weather stations, and other sources, AI can provide real-time information on changing weather patterns and predict future climate changes. This can help communities and authorities to draft effective adaptation and mitigation strategies.

Climate Change Adaptation

Climate change adaptation involves adjusting to the changing climate to reduce its negative impact. AI can aid in this by analyzing data on vulnerabilities and risks associated with climate change and providing suggestions for adaptation strategies. This can help communities better prepare for and withstand the impacts of a changing climate.

Smart Buildings and Energy Efficiency in the Built Environment

The usage of AI in the built environment has unlocked solutions such as ‘smart’ buildings where AI is used to optimize building operations (i.e. heating, ventilation, air-conditioning (HVAC), electrical systems) to reduce energy/water consumption while maintaining comfort for occupants.

AI technology is also used in the area of energy efficiency by analyzing data from buildings, factories, and homes to identify areas for improvement and suggest energy-saving solutions. This not only reduces carbon emissions but also saves costs for individuals and businesses.

Sustainable Agriculture

Agriculture is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, particularly through land use change and the use of fertilizers. AI can assist in sustainable agriculture by analyzing data on crop yields, soil health, and weather patterns to help farmers make informed decisions. This can lead to more efficient use of resources and reduced emissions.

Early Detection of Forest Fires

As wildfires become more rampant, Berlin-based startup Dryad is using AI to detect small burns before they escalate. With electronic "noses" embedded in forests, AI sensors sniff out specific gases released during combustion. This proactive approach allows for timely extinguishing when fires are still manageable. With 50 installations globally, including Lebanon where sensors reacted within 30 minutes, AI is proving to be a game-changer in firefighting.

In a related case study, Appen’s work in combating wildfires through computer vision automation is a testament to the power of AI in environmental conversation. Through utilizing advanced machine learning applications, Appen’s platform has enabled data scientists to extend themselves and push the edge of the art of the possible.

Preventing Megafires

Beyond detection, AI aids in prevention. By orchestrating "controlled burns" outside fire season, excess vegetation becomes less fuel for megafires. Yolanda Gil from the University of Southern California highlights the crucial role AI plays in providing burn managers with essential information on wind conditions and vegetation moisture levels. It's a strategic approach to curb the intensity of wildfires and safeguard our environment.

Continued Advancements in AI

As technology continues to evolve, so too will its application in combatting climate change. With advancements like machine learning and big data analytics, AI is becoming even more powerful in leveraging the right data and tools to provide insights and comprehensive solutions for climate action. It has the potential to greatly assist us in achieving a sustainable future.

Appen stands firmly in support of initiatives that leverage AI for a sustainable future. In January 2023, Appen signed the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), joining more than 23,000 companies that have committed to supporting sustainable business practices and to taking ownership of creating a brighter society. The commitment to UNGC is complemented by our pledge to combat climate change and achieve net zero emissions by 2030.

Appen has implemented our net zero roadmap in 2023 and this is what we have achieved so far:

  1. Renewable energy
    • Conducted feasibility studies of installing onsite renewables across various office sites
    • Signed ‘green’ electricity contract for our corporate office in Australia
  2. Energy efficiency
    • Commenced installation of LED lightings in our Philippines office
  3. Sustainable office design
    • Created design specification document for offices
    • Leased new energy efficient offices in United States and Canada
    • Closure of underutilized offices
  4. Carbon offsets
    • Procured carbon offsets to offset our unavoidable business travel emissions

AI as a climate solution is not just a technological advancement; it's a commitment to preserving our planet. With the increasing urgency to address climate change, AI offers a powerful tool for understanding, predicting, and mitigating its effects. As we continue to invest in AI technology and data collection methods, the potential for innovative solutions continues to grow.

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