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How can smart tech tackle climate change? © Getty Images

How can smart tech tackle climate change?

Published: 13th January, 2022 at 11:00
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Using sustainable, smart technologies to help us in the urgent need to reduce emissions may increase humanity’s chance of survival.

The recent 2021 IPCC report declared a code red for humanity, with 2019’s atmospheric CO2 concentrations higher than at any time in at least two million years. Our only chance of averting irreversible climate change is to reduce our carbon, methane and nitrous oxide emissions to net zero. And one way we can achieve this is by making our technologies more sustainable.


For instance, we can embed artificial intelligence into our buildings and let them reduce power to lights, ventilation or lifts that are not in use.

Zero-emission electric cars will also have AIs to assist our driving, making them safer and more efficient. Home energy storage solutions mean that power from solar panels can be stored, bringing us towards a distributed power grid where all buildings contribute power as well as consuming it.

AI provides us with ever more accurate models of the environment and can also mitigate the risks of climate change, by simulating exactly where floods or storms may damage property. AI can enable smarter, more efficient agriculture, and instant analysis of planetary data so we can detect illegal deforestation, water extraction, fishing and poaching. Machine learning may even have the potential to invent new materials to create technology such as room temperature superconductors.

Put together, this tech could increase the chance of Earth’s survival.

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Dr Peter Bentley is a computer scientist and author who is based at University College London. He is the author of books including 10 Short Lessons in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics and Digital Biology: How nature is transforming our technology and our lives.


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