AI: The Game changer to protect our environmental sustainability
- 22 Jun 2021
If you were to go back to the places you used to frequent as a child, would you be able to recognise them? Chances are, like the majority of the public, you would not. Or the places are just not the same any more.
Regardless of where people are located, many are finding the places they grew up in or the natural habitat surrounding the places where they live vastly changed — but not for the better. Rapid development, urbanisation and deforestation have resulted in global climate change and loss of biodiversity. That is the current state of the world ecosystem.
Figures from the United Nations (UN) cite the world loses 10 million hectares of forests every year and that approximately 30% of natural freshwater ecosystems have disappeared since 1970. Land degradation could reduce global food productivity by 12%, causing food prices to soar by up to 30% by 2040. And up to 700 million people are predicted to migrate because of land degradation and climate change by 2050.
The degradation of various ecosystems is a work done over the decades under the pretext of progress and development. Uncontrolled urbanisation and over exploitation have resulted in the decline of biological diversity and loss of biodiversity. Ultimately it has led to negative effects on several aspects of human beings such as food security issues, human health, energy security, change in social relations, vulnerability to natural disasters and limited access to clean water.
While we can’t change the past, we can make informed decisions on the world we live in moving forward. The use of technology, especially Artificial Intelligence (AI), would be able to contain the environmental degradation with the usage of predictive analysis to mitigate expected risks and support sustainable development efforts under the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) particularly as outlined by the UN.
AI potentially would be able to accelerate global efforts to protect the environment and conserve resources by detecting energy emission reductions, carbon dioxide removal, helping develop greener transportation networks, monitoring deforestation, and predicting extreme weather conditions.
For maximum results here in Malaysia, identifying the root cause and determining the actual problems or issues would be the best way to ideally embark on an AI-driven preservation or conservation initiative — be it at the Federal government level or State government level.
AI must be viewed as effective tools to provide solutions to age-old problems or impending issues. Potentially, AI-driven initiatives would be able to narrow the existing gap and silo mentality to maximise the potential outcome resulting in the best interest of the people and the future generation.
As an AI solutions provider in the climate change and environment space, Terra Sentinel believes it is very critical and crucial to employ technologies like AI and IoT (Internet of Things) to address impending Earth challenges; from ending hunger and poverty to achieving sustainable energy and to protecting and preserving biodiversity.
In the case of river pollution, it is a recurring issue every year without a long term and viable solution which we believe could be solved with the advanced technology of AI and IoT.
While greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) is one of the biggest contributors to climate change, there are also other human related activities that are contributing to the degradation of the environment. One immediate example of the usage of AI and IoT to monitor and prevent climate change would be the predictive analytics coupled with the use of drones, advanced sensor platforms and other tools to monitor floods, pollution level, emission level and other possible natural catastrophes.
We have undertaken to engage stakeholders which is a key move to identify the environmental threats as well as gather information and intelligence to determine their impact on the environment, and the economy and health sectors. Only then can the best AI-driven solutions and initiatives be developed to be adopted by the government and other relevant stakeholders.
At Terra Sentinel, we believe now is the time to leverage AI as it provides the means to tackle the most pressing environmental challenges.
With this year’s World Environment Day themed “Reimagine. Recreate. Restore”, it is an opportune time to harness the power of AI to assist in taking the precautionary measures and ultimately enable early and timely actions to reduce the adverse impact of ecosystem loss.
It is time to use AI to safeguard our ecosystems for not only the present, but also the future.
This opinion piece is written by Dr Mahadi Mohamad, the Founder of Terra Sentinel – a Skymind portfolio company. For more information, please go to www.skymind.global.