AI For The Earth: How Artificial Intelligence & Data Hold The Key To Sustainability

Mother Earth can’t catch a break. From rainforest destruction to climate change to ocean acidification to air and water pollution, modern environmental threats are as numerous as they are serious. With time running out, humanity isn’t close to solving even one of these problems, let alone to dealing with them all comprehensively and effectively.

The problem isn’t that no one cares; governments, companies, and individuals across the globe are working hard to save the earth. And it’s not even that we don’t have the technology. Many devices and methods exist that could dramatically reduce if not eliminate our contributions to these environmental threats if we could adopt them on a large scale. But we don’t yet know how to apply the sustainable technologies we have. Until we can do that, their benefits will be almost entirely theoretical.

Artificial intelligence may hold the key to finally enacting our sustainable solutions. By gathering data on a large scale and using AI applications to interpret it, we can identify the most effective solution or set of solutions to each environmental crisis. We can then apply those solutions as seamlessly as possible, leading to substantial, enduring improvements in our treatment of the earth. To understand how AI can accomplish this, consider its ability to:

Enhance Green Energy

One of the most powerful examples of the limits of modern environmentalism is the push for green energy. To combat climate change and various forms of pollution, we need to shift to solar, wind, nuclear, and geothermal sources of energy. But while the technology already exists to get a large portion of our energy from these sources, businesses and utilities have trouble incorporating them into their everyday operations. Each generation method is suited for organizations in different locations and with distinct energy use needs. Figuring out which one works for a particular organization takes considerable time and effort, and has a high potential for error.

AI applications can figure out how to apply green energy far more quickly and effectively than human planners can. Organizations can amass as much data as possible on their energy use patterns and then feed that data to an AI application. The application can then compare these patterns to every available source of sustainable energy, identifying the one that is best able to meet the organization’s needs most while generating as little additional cost as possible. AI can also identify potential roadblocks in the adoption process, so organizations can prepare for and minimize those issues. In this way, companies, utilities, and all other institutions can adopt renewable energy without skipping a beat.

Besides helping individual organizations use green energy, AI can aid grids in adopting sustainable generation for all citizens. Grids must carefully monitor the energy supply and make sure there is enough to meet demand. This is difficult to do with sustainable sources like wind and solar, which are only available at certain times of the day. An AI application can study the data on how a grid uses energy and when wind, solar, and other sources tend to be available. It can then identify the best possible mix of sources, maximizing the use of sustainable energy without depriving the grid of the power it needs to meet demand. As a result, the grid can become more sustainable, lowering the environmental footprint of everyone who uses it.

Track Wildlife Patterns

In addition to pollution and climate change, humanity is having a profound effect on wildlife populations and ecosystems. The more land we use, the less is available for plants and animals that play a critical role in local and regional environments. The results ripple through the ecosystem, eventually coming back to haunt humanity.

Local governments and private initiatives have tried to limit these ecosystem threats. But the problem is that we don’t always know what specific resources and areas need to be reserved for each wildlife population, making it hard for us to protect ecosystems effectively. Artificial intelligence has the potential to solve this problem. By analyzing extensive data on wildlife feeding and migration patterns, AI applications can figure out what areas must be preserved to keep the ecosystem in check. In this way, we can give wildlife everything they need while still making maximum use of the land.

Manage Limited Resources

Humanity risks overusing a host of precious resources, including:

  • Water– From the Middle East to Northern China to the American Southwest, many highly populated areas have limited access to water. AI applications can evaluate water resources in each region and figure out which ones can most reliably serve local communities. They can also analyze how communities use water, identifying opportunities to cut waste and reduce total consumption.
  • Arable Land– Not all land is suitable for agriculture, and what is available often becomes infertile if farmed too much. AI can identify the best fertilizers, crop rotation schedules, and irrigation methods to keep arable land useful for the long haul.
  • Metals & Minerals– Many metals, minerals, and other materials needed for manufacturing consumer products are mined in such a way that is harmful to the environment. AI applications can evaluate alternative methods for mining these materials, identifying those that are capable of limiting environmental damage without generating extra costs. They can also assess alternative materials that manufacturers can use in place of these, determining whether it is better for the environment to use them.

Imaginea strives to drive forward artificial intelligence, sustainable energy, and other solutions to all the problems humanity faces. For more information on the future of these technologies and what we’re doing to promote them, contact us today.