Climate change affects billions of people globally. Its impact cuts across every region of the globe, ecosystem, and economies. These impacts will not only fall on future populations; climate change is already having its toll on human health and the environment. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, “Outdoor air pollution kills more than 3 million people worldwide every year and causes health problems from asthma to heart disease for many more. Above all, this is costing societies very large amounts in terms of the value of lives lost and ill health”-OECD-the cost of air pollution
However, there is good news! In this article, we’ll be analyzing how Artificial Intelligence can be leveraged to lessen the impact of Climate Change.
What is Climate Change?
Climate Change can be seen as alterations to prior existing weather patterns caused by human activities (industrial activities and others). According to NASA.gov, Climate change describes a change in the average conditions, such as temperature/rainfall, in a region over a long period. For example, 20,000 years ago, much of the United States was covered in glaciers. In the United States today, we have a warmer climate and fewer glaciers.
Impacts or Effects of Climate Change
Some impacts of climate change can be felt in:
- Rising Temperatures- Intense heat, floods, drought, violent storms, etc.
- Impact on water resources; freshwater shortages adversely affecting other critical resources and social issues such as food supply, health, industry, transportation, and ecosystem integrity.
- Loss of endangered species in our flora and fauna
- The global meltdown of ice sheets and alpine glaciers
- Threatens the health of our children and grandchildren through climatic induced diseases.
How Did We Get Here?
An enormous amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have been continuously released into our atmosphere over time. So much that our planet’s atmosphere is now like a thick, heat-trapping blanket. This hinders the atmospheric balance that keeps the climate stable. We have seen some extreme effects around the globe, as already listed above. It’s like your laptop device or mobile device that has gone haywire due to a virus attack. As a result of this, the climate changes, and everywhere gets warmer, including Antarctica. Extreme weather events also become more common, including the flooding of some areas.
Carbon is freely stored across the entire planet, ranging from plants, soil, the ocean, including me, and you (human beings). We continuously release this carbon into the atmosphere in carbon dioxide through daily activities such as burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas) and cutting down trees. As a result of these human activities, today’s atmosphere contains 42 percent more carbon dioxide than before the industrial era.
What Has Been Done In The Past?
Containing these greenhouse gases requires concerted efforts and strategies.
- Stopping the cutting down of trees (deforestation)
- Actively controlling population explosion through childbirth control
- Adopting renewable energy; the adoption of solar-powered buildings and cars
- Diversify from fossil fuel
How Can AI Be Used To Leverage Climate Change?
- Measurement and location of where carbon is emanating from: Carbon tracker relies on, ” The use of satellite imagery to quantify carbon emissions from all large power plants worldwide and make this information available to the public. Carbon Tracker, in collaboration with WattTime and the WRI, was chosen through the Google AI Impact Challenge to use the data to hold polluting plants accountable to environmental standards and to enable advanced new emissions reduction technologies.”-Carbon tracker
- Proving the effect of Climate Change: Many homeowners are experiencing the impact of changing environments; for some others, it’s not tangible and realistic. To convince this set of people, researchers from Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA), ConscientAI Labs used GANs, an AI aspect, to simulate what homes are likely to look like after being damaged by rising sea levels and more intense storms.
- Creating new low-carbon materials: A proportion of global emissions of greenhouse gases are traced to concrete and steel production. Machine learning can drastically reduce the effects by helping to develop low-carbon alternatives to these materials. AI would help scientists discover new materials by experimenting with unique properties and interactions of never-seen-before chemical compounds.
- Predict extreme weather events: Changes in cloud cover and ice sheet dynamics are some of the problems AI is digging into. Modeling these changes will help scientists predict extreme weather events, like droughts and hurricanes, hence assisting governments to better prepare against such occurrences.
- Make transportation more efficient: The transportation sector is responsible for a massive percentage of global energy-related CO2 emissions, with two-thirds of this generated by road users. Companies such as Tesla Motors are developing electric cars laden with AI to increase vehicle efficiency and shift its dependence from fossil fuels.