Artificial Intelligence is an amazing tool available to researchers, industries, and scientists to help solve some of the world’s most complex challenges. While AI is not a panacea to the world’s most pressing issues, it is proving to be a critical tool in alleviating the strain on natural resources.
As AI applications become more sophisticated and widely available, people across industries and cultures are finding new ways to solve climate-related issues with smarter data usage. Below is a sample of some of the most promising and interesting AI applications in the field of climate change mitigation:
- More Responsible Water Usage
Almost one-fifth of the world's population, or 1.2 billion people, live in areas of physical water scarcity. Agriculture, industrial manufacturing, energy production, and mining command the lion’s share of water usage. Each one of these categories has significant room for improvement in how they use and treat the freshwater they consume every day.
In the not-so-distant future, precipitation patterns will be less reliable and the demand on historical freshwater sources like aquifers will outpace natural replenishment rates. In such a situation, getting every ounce of value out of water resources will be critical to overall sustainability. Our company’s AI framework enables operators to automatically monitor critical water processes and have access to actionable information. One water treatment plant was able to reduce its overall water and energy usage/costs by 18% after implementing our AI solution. The U.S. manufacturing sector uses about 15.9 billion gallons of water per day, so every drop counts!
- Better Climate/Weather Predictions
Agricultural activities worldwide rely heavily upon predictable rainfall and temperature patterns. This helps the farmers understand when to plant, harvest, and irrigate their crops for maximum efficiency. With historical climate patterns in flux, farmers will need better modeling technology to adapt to a less predictable climate.
Microsoft’s AI for Earth initiative is combining cloud technology with AI-powered sensors to collect soil, tillage, and yield data for specific farms around the world. They are making this data available to other farmers via cloud-based applications.
As other meteorology-focused technologies like sensors, satellites, and computer models continue to advance, AI will serve as a unifying service that will help make sense of the seemingly infinite data points they collect.
- Better Emissions Tracking
Every improvement AI brings to industrial processes will help us cut waste and conserve resources. But it’s the carbon emissions that ultimately need to be addressed to best mitigate the effects of climate change. A recent article in National Geographic outlines how Google is partnering with environmentally driven organizations to help better monitor carbon emissions from power plants with AI.
“AI can automate the analysis of images of power plants to get regular updates on emissions. It also introduces new ways to measure a plant’s impact, by crunching numbers of nearby infrastructure and electricity use. That’s handy for gas-powered plants that don’t have the easy-to-measure plumes that coal-powered plants have,” the article explained.
By better mapping and processing emissions data, governments and companies can better understand where problems are originating and how they can best address these problems going forward.
AI For Business and Climate
Just like digital transformation, targeted AI initiatives can improve top-line revenue as well as manage climate risks. The key aspect to note here is that AI initiatives require behavioral change across all lines of business. Addressing and managing climate change requires the same step-by-step commitment from companies that goes into any other business initiative — it’s the small steps that can add up to big returns.