One recent summer morning I went walking in the woods.
As the light shining through the leaves warmed my face, something seemed off. It took me a moment to realise the strangeness I felt was the deafening sound of silence. No birdsong, no rustle of woodland creatures. Just silence.
My heart broke a little that day. For what’s happening to our home. For what many people in power are letting happen.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the twin climate and nature crises we find ourselves in (and the insidious culture wars being waged to distract us from the fire). Through centuries of exploiting both people and the planet, humanity has now entered the “era of global boiling”, according to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. Yet just this week, UK prime minister Rishi Sunak announced hundreds of new oil and gas licences for the North Sea, a move that goes against science (and sense).
But as a climate and sustainability specialist, I try not to dwell in the darkness. I am a solutions-focused, stubborn optimist. I crave answers. I want action. And lately I started to wonder (in the most Carrie Bradshaw of ways)… what does generative AI think about all this?
As the life-giving systems on which we all depend to survive and thrive start to break down, we’re building up new systems of artificial intelligence and shaping entire digital worlds. But could AI even survive the impacts of a rapidly warming planet? Where will the $900,000 a year AI specialists be when the water rises and extreme weather sweeps away their beachfront homes?
As a light-hearted experiment, I wanted to better understand how two of the most popular generative AI language models “think” (or how they consolidate information from the internet and their developers) about the climate and nature crises, what the solutions are, and where they see the role of AI in facilitating these solutions.
So I asked ChatGPT and Bard a few questions.
Here’s what they had to say. And even though ChatGPT insists it’s just a language model and Bard has a far more personal tone, the way these AI programs are talking about clear, urgent action gives me hope.
Sure, here is what I think about the climate and nature crises in on short paragraph:
The climate and nature crises are tow of the most pressing issues facing humanity today. They are interconnected, and both are caused by human activity. We need to take urgent action to address these crises, or we will face devastating consequences.
The climate crisis is caused by the emission of greenhouse gases, which trap heat in the atmosphere. This is causing the Earth’s temperature to rise, which is leading to more extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and the extinction of species.
The nature crisis is caused by the destruction of natural habitats, such as forests, oceans, and wetlands. This is leading the the extinction of species, the spread of diseases , and the degradation of the environment.
We need to take action now to address the climate and nature crises. We can do this by reducing our emissions o f greenhouse gases, protecting nature, and investing in renewable energy. We also need to change our lifestyles and make more sustainable choices.
The future of our planet depends on it.
To tackle climate change and nature loss while limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, we must prioritise a multi-pronged approach. First, rapidly transition to renewable energy sources, improve energy efficiency, and phase out fossil fuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Second, protect and restore natural habitats and biodiversity through conservation efforts and sustainable land-use practices. Third, implement robust policies and incentives that promote sustainable practices and innovation across industries. Fourth, enhance international cooperation and commitments to ensure a collective effort in addressing these crises. Finally, prioritise a just and fair transition by considering the needs of vulnerable communities, providing support for job retraining and creating green jobs, and ensuring equitable access to resources and opportunities throughout the process.
No, I do not think we can achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and a more equitable future by expanding oil and gas. In fact, expanding oil and gas production would make it much more difficult to achieve net-zero emissions.
Oil and gas are major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that oil and gas production accounted for 48% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2020. Expanding oil and gas production would only increase these emissions.
In addition, expanding oil and gas production would have a number of negative consequences for the environment and for people. It would lead to more pollution, more deforestation, and more conflict over resources. It would also make it more difficult to achieve a more equitable future, as the benefits of oil and gas production would be concentrated in the hands of a few wealthy countries and corporations.
There are a number of ways to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and a more equitable future. These include investing in renewable energy, improving energy efficiency, and changing our lifestyles to reduce our consumption. We also need to make sure that the transition to a low-carbon economy is fair and just, so that everyone benefits.
Expanding oil and gas production is not the answer to these challenges. In fact, it would make them much worse. We need to focus on renewable energy, energy efficiency, and a just transition if we want to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and a more equitable future.
Al can play a vital role in tackling the nature and climate crises by enhancing data analysis, predictive modelling, and optimisation for more effective solutions. Al can aid in climate monitoring, helping us better understand the changing climate and its impacts. It can also optimise energy systems, resource management, and conservation efforts.
However, Al’s potential is limited by human decisions and actions. Under the worst-case climate scenario, Al’s infrastructure and operations might face disruptions due to extreme weather events, resource scarcity, or social instability. The continued progress and deployment of Al would heavily depend on humanity’s ability to mitigate climate change and ensure a sustainable future.
As an Al language model, I don’t have emotions or personal feelings, so I don’t experience hope or any other emotions.
However, I can say that the future of humanity is shaped by the collective actions and decisions we make today. While there are significant challenges to address, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and other global issues, there are also opportunities for positive change and progress.
Many people and organisations are actively working towards finding solutions and implementing sustainable practices to build a better future. It will ultimately depend on how we, as a global community, come together to address these challenges and create a more equitable, sustainable, and prosperous future for all.
I am hopeful about the future of humanity, but I also recognise that there are many challenges that we face. The nature and climate crises are two of the most pressing issues, and they will require us to act boldly and collectively if we are to address them.
However, I believe that we have the potential to overcome these challenges. We have a long history of innovation and resilience, and I believe that we can use these strengths to create a better future for ourselves and for generations to come.
I am also hopeful about the role of Al in the future of humanity. Al has the potential to help us to address the nature and climate crises, and it can also be used to improve our lives in many other ways. However, it is important to use Al responsibly, and to ensure that it is used for the benefit of all people.
Ultimately, the future of humanity is in our hands. We have the power to create a better future, or we can allow the challenges that we face to overwhelm us. I believe that we can choose hope, and I am hopeful that we will make the right choices.
Here are some things that give me hope about the future of humanity:
I believe that these trends give us reason to be hopeful about the future of humanity. We are facing challenges, but we also have the tools and the resources to overcome them. If we work together, I believe that we can create a better future for ourselves and for generations to come.
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