How AI is helping to tackle climate change and environmental issues
Blog|by Leanne Bevan|15 August 2019
Climate change is affecting the planet, and we’re already starting to see the effects of it. Look at the melting icebergs, these hotter UK summers (though that’s probably one good thing to some), and the effect on wildlife, to name but a few examples.
I have been reading various articles on the effects of climate change and the environmental challenges we’re facing, and what the future may hold. I have taken a dive into what some are doing to help combat these issues. And it will involve bringing together people and technology, and improving processes to ensure that the planet does not get as negatively affected as the scientists forewarn will happen if we were to stay at our current rate.
We are making changes
On the upside, we (being countries across the globe) are starting to make a change, with more investments and focus on low carbon emissions. The UK even created the Climate Change Act. More and more individuals and organisations are also caring more about the environment – cutting plastic, recycling more, opting for hybrid/low-emission cars, and so on. People have been protesting and the “there’s no planet B” message is starting to get through to the governments and organisations that can really make an impact on the change. And large technical corporations are taking the leap to ensure their solutions can make the changes possible.
What the experts say about AI and climate change
I recently came across an article shared on LinkedIn from National Geographic written by Jackie Snow about how artificial intelligence is tackling climate change. She talks of how AI can be used for better climate prediction and to show homeowners the effects of extreme weather. In the article, Jackie refers to a published paper written by AI and Machine Learning experts called “Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning”.
In the paper they conclude that Machine Learning can make significant contributions to climate change in a variety of areas. For instance, it can provide system efficiency through preventing electricity loss during transmission, consolidating freight and reducing food waste. Identifying deforestation, energy use and more can be facilitated through remote sensing and automatic monitoring. In addition, time-intensive simulations like climate models and energy scheduling models can be created. Machine Learning can be used towards the creation of smart buildings and smart cities, as well as capturing infrastructure data. But they stress that Machine Learning is only one part of the cog that will resolve the climate change issue, and that it will enable other tools across various fields.
The authors go on to say that more research needs to be pursued to expand on what is already capable, with dialogue required with fields outside and within computer science. But there are challenges. For one it’s much easier to access vast amounts of data in developed countries like the UK and US, than developing countries like India. And because the data is not global, the results will not represent global use cases. Another challenge is that proprietary and sensitive personal data may be required – but not so easily obtained (especially since the improved data protection laws).
The paper also provides a roadmap on how to apply Machine Learning to climate change, encouraging you to learn, collaborate, listen and deploy.
How AI tech corporations are helping to understand and prevent climate change
We offer a range of solutions that can help facilitate AI and Machine Learning projects, working with vendors such as Microsoft and Intel, whose technology have been integral to this, and can help those of you make a change too. Utilise their tools to boost performance, analyse data, and take advantage of the cloud.
Microsoft offers APIs and grants to those working on the cause through their “AI for Earth” scheme which focuses on climate, agriculture, biodiversity and water. For instance, they have customers using AI to improve habitats, track animal species that are close to extinction and advanced mapping for enhancing conservation. Satellites and AI are used for preserving biodiversity, Machine Learning is used for increasing the scale and efficiency of wildlife surveys, and AI, drones and the cloud are used to analyse mosquito blood to keep ahead of infectious diseases. They also have customers hosting apps on Azure with multi-tenancy to help users gain insights. It’s worth also taking a look at our blog about Microsoft AI for humanitarian action.
Intel sponsors challenges and skills-based competitions such as the Intel AI Interplanetary Challenge with The Planetary Society around the creation of innovation AI applications in space exploration. They have a customer using the Intel AI optimisation technologies to measure deforestation and carry out image recognition. And by adding an additional layer of AI into the system with the tiny yet powerful Intel Movidius™ Myriad™ 2 VPU, TrailGuard AI now intelligently knows when a potential poacher is present, allowing park rangers to rapidly intercept and apprehend the animal killers. The Clean Water AI project uses Intel Movidius Neural Compute Stick to perform water testing in real-time, and to prevent crop infestations and huge losses for farmers, the Intel Distribution of OpenVINO toolkit is optimising methodology to identify pathological plant diseases.
Please fill in the form below for more information about Microsoft and Intel solutions and licences available. We recently hosted a workshop with Microsoft and Intel on using Intel tools for HPC and AI in the cloud, check out the slides here.
Are you part of an awesome AI project that is helping the environment?
Are you developing an application that can help the planet and reduce our environmental impact? We’d love to hear about it, please contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org! We would love to share your amazing work with our developer community.
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