AI for Good blog

5 ways Artificial Intelligence can protect our planet

Disaster Management | Environment & Climate change

By Erin Kalejs 

Last week, the United Nations issued stark warnings about the fate of our planet, as climate change impacts are increasing and causing havoc across developed and developing countries. While artificial intelligence (AI) has been applying its benefits to industries such as health care and finance, it is also currently playing a key role in helping protect our planet.  

Although AI for the environment may not reach headlines in the same way as the Metaverse and self-driving cars, there are in fact many advancements in AI that the world can harness to address critical environmental issues at the upcoming COP27 meeting in Egypt. From cleaning up our ocean to preventing and predicting forest fires, here are five ways AI is being used to fight climate change:  

Cleaning up our oceans with AI 

Autonomous underwater robots are being used to carry out subsea inspections and maintenance in the hydroelectric, aquaculture, oil and gas industries. Reaching deeper and further than any human can go, robots can be used for monitoring pollution, tsunami, and seismicity activity, and even contributing to ocean plastic and debris clean-ups.  

Watch this AI For Good webinar featuring a panel of speakers including Sam Macdonald, CEO of Deep Trekker and Richard Mills, Vice President of Marine Robotics Sales at Kongsberg Maritime along with other experts to find out more about the potential underwater robots hold and how they can protect our ocean’s health and improve conditions for sustainable use of marine resources.    

Creating clean energy for all  

Machine learning is an advanced technique that can be used to find new materials and ways to create sustainable and renewable energy. AI offers a more effective search for materials since a computer allows millions of potential solutions to be found and explored in ways that aren’t possible when done by a human in a lab.  

“The big challenge with AI is, it’s about the quantity and quality of the data required to actually do something productive,” said Catherine Newman, chief executive officer of Limejump in a past AI For Good webinar. “We can’t optimize the grid without having access to the data that tells us how it’s operating in real time,” she added.  

It is clear that AI and digital tech can accelerate the energy transition, but these solutions need to be scaled up at pace. Watch this AI For Good webinar replay to gain more insight into how digital tech and AI can support society’s efforts to transition to a cleaner energy system. 

Predicting changes in climate science 

AI is crucial in our understanding of the Earth’s system. As experts, researchers and even citizen scientists gather an increasing amount of data about the Earth, these billions of data points need to be analyzed to produce meaningful insights. This is where AI comes in.  

“As a climate scientist, part of our job is to sift through piles of data and try to extract useful relationships that apply elsewhere. This concept is really that of out-of- sample predictions, we want to learn something from our data that applies to data we haven’t seen before. In essence this is what many machine learning methods are designed to do, whether they do it well or not is the big question,” said Elizabeth Barnes, Associate Professor, Dept. of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University in this AI For Good Discovery session. 

By collecting a myriad of data points including satellite data with remote sensing earth observations and combining them with in-situ information, AI can provide patterns of change such as landslides, climate and weather patterns To understand how viewing our climate through an AI lens has the power to find new insights into anthropogenic change, take a look at this AI For Good webinar. 

Supporting biodiversity and protecting ecosystems  

Species identification systems that use machine learning allow us to monitor factors such population estimation that help protect endangered species. Additionally, these AI-enabled monitoring systems that use Geo-AI technologies such as satellite images and sensor data can help us identify illegal poaching, and other activities that jeopardize biodiversity.  

Register for AI For Good’s upcoming webinar, Machine learning supporting ecology, with Devis Tuia, head of the Environmental Computational Science and Earth Observation laboratory (ECEO) at École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) to learn more about how AI tools are being used to help preserve biodiversity. 

Preventing forest fires and forecasting threats to forests  

Predictive AI can use descriptive data from forests to predict the size, spread, and probability of a fire outbreak in a specific area. Scientists can also use machine learning techniques to identify the type of fuel feeding the flames, detect and map existing fires. 

Register for the upcoming AI For Good webinar to discover more about how AI can help sustain our global forest ecosystems by hearing from a wide range of speakers including Capgemini experts, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, public organizations and business stakeholders.