The Industrial Revolution brought better products to market but at the price of increasing carbon emissions. Carbon emissions are now a major driver for rising global temperatures leading to frequent natural disasters, faster extinction of species and habitat destruction.
Governments and businesses all over the world have realized the problem and began acting in any capacity they can to mitigate climate change. However, an area that goes under-utilized is that of big data. In this article, we will discuss some ways in which big data can help solve climate change.
1. Transitioning to sustainable products
As management professor Peter Drucker said “You can’t manage what you don’t measure”. Limited data on the adoption of sustainable products can hinder their growth. Big data can help:
- Web scraping
- can be used to collect online reviews and understand people’s perceptions and responses to products. Businesses can use this information to optimize their marketing
- can help quantify the market impact of sustainable products which can inform regulators and investors. For example, New Automotive in the UK uses publicly available web data on sales statistics to track the adoption of Electric Vehicles (EVs).
- Social media scraping can be useful to check for comments on new sustainable products being introduced into the market.
2. Early Warnings
Climate change causes frequent and destructive disasters owing to rising sea levels, melting of glaciers, and global temperature increase. Big data can help generate early warnings:
- Sensors help collect data on various variables, such as rain and soil. Machine learning models can leverage historical and real-time data from such sensors to provide predictive analysis for disasters, such as heatwaves, floods, and changes in the natural environment.
- Scraping social media posts for earthquakes or other natural disasters can help in narrowing down vulnerable and high-risk areas.
You can read our article on risk management to learn more about the topic.
3. Greener Public Goods
Transportation, electricity production and agriculture are some of the highest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Big data can help develop greener public goods:
- Mobile positioning data can help track mobile phones’ locations. This can be helpful when deciding where to provide greener public transport alternatives to reduce emissions.
- Satellite, geographical and climate data can help in predicting solar/wind energy levels to optimize electricity production.
- Data on identifying harmful emissions and their pressure points in the supply chain processes can also help reduce the use of fossil fuels for electricity generation. For example, Ember is an independent energy think tank that uses data on the global power sector and its impact on the climate to provide insights to governments.
4. Smart Agriculture
Smart agriculture, also called precision agriculture, is a sustainable and greener way of practicing agriculture which uses data from various sensors for diagnostics and decision making:
- Sensors and drones provide farmers with real time data that they can use to monitor the crops. This data is then used by precision machinery for irrigation or pesticide use.
- This form of farming reduces the use of resources such as water and energy while increasing crop yield with minimal chemicals and fertilizers in use.
Platforms using big data to combat climate change
- Climate Policy Radar maps global climate policies and laws to facilitate policymakers with data-driven tools for better policy design and accountability.
- Global Forest Watch is an online platform providing data to monitor forests over the world. It has helped in stopping illegal deforestation and unsustainable activities.
- Google Earth Engine combines satellite and geospatial data to inform changes in the planet’s surface. They also offer commercial services to companies to help them achieve their sustainability goals.
- The Bright Initiative by Bright Data works with publicly available data on the web to promote environmental protection initiatives. It partners with Subak which is the world’s first global non-profit accelerator fighting climate issues.
- Ukko Agro helps farmers in several countries with crop growth, yield forecasting and disease control to help automate farming.
- Top 4 Digital Technologies that Improve Corporate Sustainability
- Top 10 Sustainability Case Studies and Success Stories
If you need help in choosing a vendor, feel free to contact us:
This article was drafted by former AIMultiple industry analyst Rijja Younus.
Cem has been the principal analyst at AIMultiple since 2017. AIMultiple informs hundreds of thousands of businesses (as per similarWeb) including 60% of Fortune 500 every month.
Cem's work has been cited by leading global publications including Business Insider, Forbes, Washington Post, global firms like Deloitte, HPE, NGOs like World Economic Forum and supranational organizations like European Commission. You can see more reputable companies and media that referenced AIMultiple.
Throughout his career, Cem served as a tech consultant, tech buyer and tech entrepreneur. He advised businesses on their enterprise software, automation, cloud, AI / ML and other technology related decisions at McKinsey & Company and Altman Solon for more than a decade. He also published a McKinsey report on digitalization.
He led technology strategy and procurement of a telco while reporting to the CEO. He has also led commercial growth of deep tech company Hypatos that reached a 7 digit annual recurring revenue and a 9 digit valuation from 0 within 2 years. Cem's work in Hypatos was covered by leading technology publications like TechCrunch and Business Insider.
Cem regularly speaks at international technology conferences. He graduated from Bogazici University as a computer engineer and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.
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