16 Sep Want to Help Solve Climate Change? Invest in AI
Imagine a dashboard for Earth—a little like the one in your car. Only instead of monitoring gas mileage and temperature controls, this one reports real-time data on deforestation, crop failures, weather patterns, natural disasters and rising sea levels around the world.
And it’s all powered by artificial intelligence (AI).
Backed by smart computers capable of performing tasks that would normally require a human brain, and cloud computing facilities that reduce the environmental impact of these computational requirements, AI systems can produce the kind of up-to-the-minute analysis that enables scientists to develop better and faster solutions to climate change-related problems.
Climate change has been referred to as one the most pressing issues of our time, and yet, for many of us, making individual changes toward a sustainable future feels like a tiny drop in a giant bucket. Investing in AI-powered solutions just might be a game changer.
How AI Powers Climate Change Solutions
You may have already experienced AI when your car beeps to let you know you’re about to back into a pole, or when your thermostat automatically adjusts as you arrive home in the afternoon. But when it comes to climate change solutions, AI can do so much more.
AI-based systems can gather data, recognize patterns, make predictions and provide recommendations for better outcomes. In practice, this could mean everything from boosting the accuracy of weather forecasts, to helping farmers grow their crop yields, to improving the efficiency of buildings and managing the integration of renewable energy in power grids.
The World Economic Forum reported 8 key ways AI can help save the planet, looking at self-driving cars guided by AI applications that are optimized to reduce emissions, intelligent cities that are built to minimize resource dependencies, and smart disaster response designed to lessen vulnerabilities and improve recovery outcomes as a few examples.
Overcoming the Hurdles of Smart Technology
Of course, like all technological solutions, AI does come with some drawbacks.
Although AI technologies improve efficiencies, the technology itself is not exactly carbon efficient. Because AI requires vast amounts of energy to power its massive computational abilities, it can produce equally massive amounts of carbon emissions.
Putting Your Money to Work for the Earth
If you’re interested in putting your investment funds toward climate change solutions, investing in companies working to further AI technologies with software, processors, memory and storage, or those using AI to further climate change solutions, is a powerful way to take action, according to Genus’ director of sustainable investments, Mike Thiessen. “Using our investments, we really can have an effect on the climate crisis and we can significantly reduce our carbon footprint,” he says.
Genus’ Fossil Free High Impact fund invests in companies that use AI technologies both to reduce environmental impacts and to foster green solutions. “We invest in energy efficiency companies like Citrix,” Thiessen says, “a cloud computing company that offers more energy efficient solutions than local computing.”
Impact investing with a tech focus is also a solid strategy for growing your portfolio. AI makes for a great investment because its core components — software, processors, memory and storage — are becoming essential to many other types of businesses.
With impact investing, you can activate your entire portfolio or a portion of your portfolio toward climate impact, and generate better total returns when you consider the social and environmental benefits you’re helping to power.
And there’s nothing artificial about that.
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Tom Rand, a leading scientist, computer engineer and philosopher in Toronto, is convinced that The Energy Internet (aka the Internet of Things or Smart Grid) could reduce total energy demand by 50% in Europe and North America, which would make global fossil-fuel-use reduction targets significantly