Can Climate Technology Help Save the Planet?

Wendy Gonzalez is the CEO of Samathe supplier of accurate data for ambitious AI.

In 2021, the UN issued our most serious climate warning yet: a code red for humanity† Noting that the “internationally agreed threshold of 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels of global warming was dangerously close”, it was made clear that, without significant change, the threat of exacerbated climate catastrophes, mass displacement of populations and significant health crises will continue to rise.

Yet companies continue to struggle to find solutions that help reduce environmental impact on a large scale. That said, artificial intelligence (AI) with industry-wide use cases could become a promising sustainability solution.

As the CEO of an AI company that prioritizes environmental impact, I have witnessed the power of technology in building a brand that is not only financially viable, but vital for powering environmental conservation tools. Using these insights, here are just three ways AI can be integrated to help save the planet.

Reducing Emissions

Humans have caused carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere to rise to levels unseen† In order to limit the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it is especially crucial for companies, which are responsible for the majority of emissions, to reduce their production. While it can cost a lot of time and money to make emission-reducing changes to your business, AI is helping to make sustainability an essential tool for growth.

According to a recent BCG examination, companies can now use AI to monitor their emissions and predict their future emissions to make effective, cost-efficient adjustments. The research shows that AI could reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 5% to 10% by 2030. Examples of these AI applications include tools to optimize carbon-free energy production, such as wind farms, optimize traffic with autonomous vehicles and predict when equipment will need repair to reduce failures in CO2 emissions.

For example, by using AI technology, IBM researchers work together with customers and partners to solve complex climate-related issues. Examples include reducing “the growing global carbon footprint of cloud workloads and data centers” and “developing membranes and materials that can capture and absorb carbon at the origin of emissions.” In fact, research by Microsoft and PWC makes clear that “Using AI for environmental applications has the potential to increase global GDP by 3.1% – 4.4%.”

Keep in mind that incorporating AI into the emissions reduction process requires an investment in high-quality training data. Without it, there is no way to know if your insights are correct. To ensure you and your team make informed decisions about climate action, always confirm that the data your algorithms use is robust and free of bias.

Improving Conservation Efforts

As the planet warms, it becomes less habitable for humans and the many other species that live on Earth. Today there are at least 10,967 species on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species are affected by climate change, increasing the risk of extinction.

The United Nations has warned of numerous extinctions in the coming years. While some species, such as the Bramble Cay melomys, have already become extinct due to the impact of climate change, others, including coral reefs, which make up some of the planet’s most biodiverse ecosystems, are at extreme risk.

While the risk of species loss is greater than ever, it is not too late to continue technology-led conservation efforts. Some companies are already putting AI to the test for these efforts. For example, using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), one of our partners is capturing large amounts of data to capture and track African wildlife. AI then analyzes the data for important insights into species, landscape, cultural relevance and human impact. By leveraging information from AI, conservationists can better understand animal behavior and make accurate predictions of their needs to conserve biodiversity.

Effectively deploying AI for conservation requires a symbiotic relationship between conservationists and your technology. Rather than replace human conservationists, AI should support their efforts to ensure they have a full understanding of the species’ environment, needs and patterns.

Protecting Agriculture and Farming

Agriculture is essential for the future of our population. That said, climate change continues to threaten our access to food. With temperature changes resulting in global droughts and floods, agricultural practices are becoming increasingly vulnerable. As for the impact in the real world, NASA studies predict that certain crop types, including maize yields, will decline by as much as 24% as a direct result of global warming.

At the same time, our population is growing rapidly. As a result, it is estimated that food production will have to increase by 60% to feed two billion more people by 2050. Understanding that our ability to meet these numbers is impossible without the help of technology, Markets and Markets estimates that spending on AI in agriculture will grow from $1 billion in 2020 to $4 billion in 2026.

Some farms, including NatureSweet, already rely on AI-powered pest and disease control applications to manage their crops. NatureSweet says AI improves greenhouse tomato yields by 20% while delivering better results for consumers and the environment. By carefully monitoring crop hazards, the company can better protect plant and soil biodiversity.

another app, Climate Basic, uses AI to “analyze local temperature and erosion data, forecast precipitation, soil quality and other agricultural data to determine how to maximize yields for each plot.” As a result, farmers can use and reserve resources more accurately. For example, farmers can avoid watering affected crops if rain is expected.

Using AI algorithms in any context requires a large amount of robust data. To ensure that their solutions are effective and accurate, farms need to be patient and remember to properly train and improve their datasets. Without high-quality information, AI is unlikely to improve agricultural planning effectively.

In our second year under the UN’s Code Red for Humanity, consider what AI-powered products or solutions you’ve come across that can have a positive impact on the environment. With new technologies, companies can better understand, predict and prepare for climate change. At the same time, they can make more effective decisions to slow the pace and protect the environment.

Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

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