Rolnick, David, Donti, Priya L., Kaack, Lynn H., Kochanski, Kelly, Lacoste, Alexandre, Sankaran, Kris, Ross, Andrew Slavin, Milojevic-Dupont, Nikola, Jaques, Natasha, Waldman-Brown, Anna, Luccioni, Alexandra, Maharaj, Tegan, Sherwin, Evan D., Mukkavilli, S. Karthik, Kording, Konrad P., Gomes, Carla, Ng, Andrew Y., Hassabis, Demis, Platt, John C., Creutzig, Felix, Chayes, Jennifer, Bengio, Yoshua
Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity, and we, as machine learning experts, may wonder how we can help. Here we describe how machine learning can be a powerful tool in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping society adapt to a changing climate. From smart grids to disaster management, we identify high impact problems where existing gaps can be filled by machine learning, in collaboration with other fields. Our recommendations encompass exciting research questions as well as promising business opportunities. We call on the machine learning community to join the global effort against climate change.
In the 1970s, the U.S. Department of Energy poured money into making practical a miraculous technology: the ability to convert sunlight into electricity. Solar energy was a pipe dream, far too expensive and unreliable to be considered a practical power source. But yesterday's moon shot is today's reality. The expense of solar power has fallen more quickly than expected, with installations costing about 80% less today than a decade ago. Alternative energy (like wind and solar) is now often cheaper than conventional energy (like coal and gas).
By 2050, the UK will have a net zero carbon economy. That, at least, is what the government claims. How it will do this is yet to be decided but it could include projects like growing trees and restoring soils to absorb more carbon from the atmosphere. However, other measures might be met with more opposition: investing in carbon sequestration abroad, phasing out petrol and diesel sooner than 2030 and, potentially, nuclear power. Concerns about safety have plagued this technology for decades.
It is the near future. You wake in a house warmed by a heat pump that extracts energy from deep below the ground and delivers it to your home. You rise and make yourself a cup of tea – from water boiled on a hydrogen-burning kitchen stove. Then you head to work – in a robot-driven electric car directed by central control network to avoid traffic jams. At midday, you pause for lunch: a sandwich made of meat grown in a laboratory.
Climate change is killing our planet. The excess production of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses are filling the atmosphere and warming the Earth faster than natural processes can effectively negate them. Since 1951, the surface temperature has risen by 0.8 degrees C, with no sign of slowing. So now it's time for humans to step in and rectify the problem they created -- by using technology to suck excess CO2 straight from the air. Direct Air Capture (DAC), is one of a number of (still largely theoretical) methods of collecting and sequestering atmospheric carbon currently being looked at.