A collaboration between a software company and tech-giant google is set to transform the way in which greenhouse gas emissions are monitored, with the launch of a new satellite system.
Nonprofit emission reduction software company Watt Time teamed up with Google’s philanthropic arm, and is set to utilise a global network of satellites to accurately measure carbon dioxide emissions.
The network of satellites will observe power plants from space, leveraging image processing algorithms, thermal infrared measurements and visual spectrum recognition to, they claim, accurately analyse emissions.
The team will then make the data accessible to the public, in the aim of holding companies accountable that aren’t ethical or accurate in the reporting of their respective CO2 emissions; naming and shaming, in essence.
In a statement, Watt Time said the aim of the project is to “use the resulting data both to hold polluting plants accountable to environmental standards, as well as to enable advanced new emissions reduction technologies.”
Gavin McCormick, Watt Time’s executive director said that “Far too many power companies worldwide currently shroud their pollution in secrecy. But through the growing power of artificial intelligence, our little coalition of nonprofits is about to lift that veil all over the world, all at once.”
“To think that today a little team like ours can use emerging AI remote sensing techniques to hold every powerful polluter worldwide accountable is pretty incredible,” he added.
President of Google.org, Jacquilline Fuller said “AI is at a nascent stage when it comes to the value it can have for the social impact sector, and we look forward to seeing the outcomes of this work and considering where there is potential for us to do even more.”
“What I really love about better data,” Watt Time’s Gavin McCormick said, “is how it puts most companies, governments, and environmentalists on the same side. We’ve been thrilled to see how many responsible, forward-thinking groups have started using advanced data to voluntarily slash emissions without anyone making them.”
The news comes on the same day that joint research from NASA, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and The Japanese Meteorological Agency reported that the globe suffered its second hottest April since reliable data collection began in 1880.
Warm water in the Pacific Ocean combined with thunderstorm activity around the equator is adding additional heat to the atmosphere on top of the already warming atmosphere due to man-made climate change factors.
Globally, April was 0.99°C above the 20th century average and only fell below the temperature of April 2016, a year which saw an extremely powerful El Niño event increase the temperatures over the Pacific Ocean.
This follows on from March which was in the top 3 of all March months since the same date.
Since 2014, the world’s top 5 warmest years have occurred, and using April 2019 as an example, the impact of man-made climate change on earth is evident.
“Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have increased more in the last 15 years than they did in over 9000 years prior to the introduction of fossil fuels.” Lead scientist at Berkeley Earth, Robert Rhode said.