From Beijing to Great Britain, companies are attempting to fight climate change through new technologies. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are now being used to combat and reverse the effects of climate change.

Using previously unavailable technology, scientists have been trialling these innovations to reduce energy usage and control carbon dioxide levels in the world. By scaling up with AI and ML, we may be looking at the answer to some of our current environmental problems.

1. Cutting energy use

Google has used ML to lower the energy use of its data centres. DeepMind, its London-based AI unit, is using information collected by sensors to reduce the data centres’ energy use for cooling by up to 40 per cent.

The same technology is also being applied to predict the clean energy output for Google so the company can manage how much conventional energy it needs. This will be useful for both the climate and Google since the company plans to open more of these data centres.

2. Growing algae to reduce carbon dioxide

The company Hypergiant is growing algae so it can absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen.

The problem with naturally growing algae is that they can grow out of control. To solve this, scientists have developed an AI unit called the Eos Bioreactor that can regulate the growth of the algae and optimise their carbon-absorbing properties. The unit is the size of a refrigerator and is said to be 400 times more effective at capturing carbon than trees in the same unit area as the Eos Bioreactor.

3. Understanding climate change data

Green Horizons, an IBM research initiative, is using cognitive computing and the internet of things (IoT) to analyse climate change data.

Cognitive computing, with its superior data processing ability, is being paired with IoT to predict pollution rates in Beijing. The system uses ML to ingest data from sources such as meteorological satellites and traffic cameras to constantly learn and adjust the predictive models. It is able to forecast pollution 72 hours in advance, with an accuracy down to the nearest kilometre on where the pollution is coming from and where it will likely go.

Beijing is using this methodology to reduce pollution levels ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics. It can use the predictions to implement policies like temporarily restricting industrial activity or limiting traffic and construction. It is modelling hypothetical what-if scenarios that will allow officials to test the effectiveness of such interventions.

4. Mapping corals around the world

Through the Allen Coral Atlas, a map is being created of all the corals around the world, so they can be studied and protected. The Allen Coral Atlas is a multi-organizational initiative using satellite images and AI image-processing abilities to study evolving coral growth in the world’s oceans. Once completed, the map should allow scientists to detect changes and locate the reefs that might face the most threats.

The future of climate change technology

In Singapore, a Digital Innovation Lab has been mastering emerging technologies to ensure the continuity of tech-based climate change initiatives.

The lab is building technology that can optimise public transport routes and decrease carbon emissions from vehicles. It also has the technology to track the rise of sea levels and their impact on marine health. Another project is tracking food provenance, checking on the quality of nutrition and the chemical composition of food.

Making these technologies accessible to partners across Asia lowers the barrier for new agencies to use them. This should result in a boost in the number of agile project-management and design-thinking climate change solutions.