The potential for AI-enabled technology is enormous when it comes to helping positive climate action. AI applications already benefit the move to a greener economy, from algorithms to data center efficiency to digital twin technology that models the Earth. However, AI systems can cause sustainability issues due to the amount of power and water they use and their carbon emissions.
The processing power required by AI systems has also significantly expanded with the emergence of deep learning and large language models. Governments and policymakers must be aware of the environmental effects of AI as its use grows to make informed choices. This World Environment Day, let us have a look at how AI can impact the environment and how it can tackle environmental changes as well.
AI and Its Impact on the Environment
As businesses continue to integrate Artificial Intelligence, they must consider ways to keep the adverse environmental impacts of the technology while embracing its technical potential and acknowledging its high energy consumption.
AI has the potential to be a potent weapon against climate change. Let us look at some of the interesting facts of the AI technology:
- Studies show that by 2050, AI-powered self-driving automobiles may cut emissions by half by determining the most effective routes.
- Indian peanut farmers used the technology to collect a 30% greater crop, producing higher yields by applying AI in agriculture.
- AI can analyze satellite photos more quickly and precisely to locate regions affected by disasters that require help or zones in which rain-forests are being destroyed.
- Further, AI-driven data analysis may boost accountability by accurately tracking whether governments and businesses adhere to their emission objectives. This can assist in predicting dangerous weather patterns.
However, several companies blame AI for using huge amounts of energy and negatively affecting our planet. For instance, AI technology across all sectors produces carbon dioxide emissions almost equal to the aviation industry. Such additional emissions will adversely affect the environment causing health hazards due to pollution. All these critiques are making scientists consider new sources for powering data farms.
Environmental Impact Due to AI
While AI technology has shown remarkable progress, the companies developing such technologies must ensure that its side effects do not negatively affect the planet.
Some data farms have switched to only using green energy. Iceland, for instance, is a desirable destination for new data centers since its data farms are fueled mainly by renewable energy from the island’s hydroelectric and geothermal resources. Iceland’s cold temperature also eliminates the need for energy-intensive fans or air conditioning to cool these data centers. But only some nations can duplicate Iceland’s unique climatic characteristics, making it a perfect location for data centers.
How Can AI Handle Environmental Challenges?
There are many areas where AI can play a significant role in handling environmental challenges. AI may be used to design buildings that use less energy, monitor deforestation, and maximize the use of renewable energy sources.
AI helps handle environmental challenges by:
- Providing Real-time analysis
AI can be used to get information in real-time and even get future predictions of natural occurrences, such as changes in glacier mass, sea level rise, CO2 atmospheric concentration, and more. AI can be a vital environmental indicator that can help us make our planet a better place to live.
- Measuring environment footprints
AI can make a difference by measuring and calculating products’ environmental and climate footprints. It can help in making businesses the most informed and effective decisions related to the footprint of products.
- Tracking air quality
AI can help monitor air pollution and even give insights into the impact of real-time air quality that can help people take protective measures. This can accelerate global environmental action by providing accurate data.
As digital consumption increases, e-waste is a primary concern of today’s society. A report by UN Global states that by 2030, e-waste will grow to almost 75 million metric tonnes. Therefore, reducing consumption and recycling electronic products as much as possible is essential. Additionally, consumers must repair those products that can be fixed.
AI offers a variety of benefits for addressing the current climate issue, but it’s challenging to overlook the possible negative consequences on the environment. Technology-related industries have a reputation for being innovative and creative, and they must use these skills to address the issues posed by Artificial Intelligence.
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