AI for Good blog

7 AI innovations helping to combat climate change

Disaster Management | Environment & Climate change | Innovation & Creativity

Featured image credit: NASA

By Erin Kalejs 

Our planet’s global average temperature is altering at a dangerous pace due to rising greenhouse emissions. In fact, the world is currently about 1.2°C warmer than it was in pre-industrial times. Unfortunately, the reality of the long-term impact of gases already emitted, compounded with the challenges of not being able to halt emissions overnight, avoiding a temperature rise of more than 1.5°C has already been deemed an unattainable goal by many experts.   

However, rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI), green information and communication technologies (ICTs) and robotics offer some hope in our fight against climate change.  

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is working with partners around the world to tackle this issue. AI for Good is identifying and scaling solutions where AI can help us detect, adapt and respond to climate change in many different areas such as weather prediction, energy efficiency or by reducing emissions from transportation, agriculture and industry.  

Here are seven innovations effectively using AI to help mitigate the climate crisis.  

Green cooling technologies and reducing electronic waste

Global energy needs are growing and consequently exacerbating the climate crisis. Fortunately, innovative green technologies such as the ones being used by Immersion4 can address how to cool electronics without any use of natural resources. If applied at scale, they can reduce, without any pollution, data center energy consumption from 20% to 4%. Green cooling technologies can also help solve another critical issue- E-waste

“I am looking forward to the day when …. we make e-waste history allowing urban mining recycling anywhere in the world, Serge Conesa, Immersion4 Founder, said in a recent AI For Good webinar.

Watch this AI For Good perspective interview to find out how green technologies can be used to save the energy equivalent of 1500 nuclear plants 

Preventing plastic pollution

The Ocean Cleanup is a non-profit organization, developing and scaling technologies to make the world’s oceans plastic free. Their impressive aim is to “remove 90% of floating ocean plastic by 2040” Using their AI object detection algorithm the organization can generate scientific observations of floating macroplastic litter.

This novel method of remote-sensing plastic detection has proved to be incredibly useful in comparison to purely relying on manual and on-site observation for collecting data. Employing these types of AI tools makes it far easier to create a ‘map’ of the plastic and its ‘hot spots’ of concentration allowing The Ocean Cleanup to focus cleaning efforts on where its most needed. 

Green digital agriculture

Brahm Works is a Bangalore based startup using AI to decarbonize India’s agriculture sector. Their solution uses AI to monitor and optimize agricultural inputs and outputs via precise nutrition control of fertilizers to give farmers a better yield and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. To learn more about their solution, watch the AI For Good Innovation Factory session. 

Preventing wildfires

Deep learning is a sophisticated machine learning technique that allows for novel ways of uncovering patterns in data. Kettle, an innovative start-up, has used deep learning to develop a smarter reinsurance model to better predict the catastrophic effects of climate change.

This predictive underwriting platform uses proprietary machine learning algorithms based on more than seven billion lines of weather and ground truth data. Their newest fire model accurately predicted wildfires in the top 20% of risk areas. Watch the AWS Special Session “Climate Change and AI: Startups innovating new industry solutions” to understand how this solution is being used to protect the world from increasing climate crises. 

Smart and sustainable cities

Sipremo is a startup using AI to make cities safe, clean and sustainable. They have developed an AI capable of providing information on where, when, and what disaster or climate change event may occur in the future, providing an incredible opportunity window to act before the events happen. This helps mitigate or even avoid the negative environmental impact that the event will have on the area. To find out more about their solution watch the AI For Good Innovation Factory session. 

Satellite imagery to predict deforestation

The Deloitte Impact Foundation is a project that was created with WWF to predict deforestation in unharmed regions. Using satellite imagery, Deloitte makes it possible analyze the potential of deforestation based on information such as the distance to water sources, cities, and other key factors. 

The route to sustainability is really building machine learning algorithms and pipelines that are more energy efficient,says Sulabh Soral, leader at the UK Deloitte AI Institute.

I think we have to be very choosy, clear and deliberate in how we design these systems and how we leverage what’s already existing… [for example] smaller or simpler algorithms,” he explained. He discussed what can be done to decrease the environmental impact of using data from datacenters for this project in a past AI For Good session. 

Improving energy efficiency

It is crucial to combine sustainability goals with business objectives to achieve sustainability targets. To accomplish this, IBM helps customers become sustainable by developing solutions through data-driven innovation such as, by applying AI for increased energy efficiency in IT operations and data centers.

Tools such as the IBM LinuxONE and IBM Instana for Observability, allows clients to track and reduce data center energy consumption in real-time. Take a look at this AI for Good webinar to gain more insight into these sustainable solutions.