Tomorrow, April 22, 2023, marks the 53rd celebration of Earth Day. Across the world, over one billion people from 193 countries will participate in events focused on environmental protection issues. The official theme for 2023 is Invest In Our Planet.
April 22 has come to be known as the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. Learn more about its origins in this fascinating oral history of the campaign featuring its original National Coordinator (and current Board Chair Emeritus), Denis Hayes. SparkCognition applauds the work of the Earth Day founders and all who work to advance the cause of environmentalism year after year, day by day.
There is no more important issue today than slowing, halting, and reversing the impacts of climate change. We believe our company can meaningfully contribute to solving this generational challenge, and the work we do is rooted in the belief that artificial intelligence will play one of the most significant roles in this effort, and others, over the next 50 years. As we wrote in a recent blog post unveiling our SparkCognition Manifesto:
…We believe AI can achieve life-changing outcomes, like preventing offshore oil catastrophes, stopping active shooter incidents at schools, putting more solar and wind power on the grid to achieve net zero, and thousands more scenarios that seem so daunting now, but one day, will not be. We can accomplish “things that never were” with the AI-powered solutions we are deploying today and those we will build tomorrow. We will manifest the change we want to see with AI’s extraordinary ability to augment human intelligence.
One of the ways we can make a difference—today—is by enabling Renewable Energy operators to maximize their operational efficiency with our proven artificial intelligence and renewable energy solutions. SparkCognition Renewable Suite makes clean energy more profitable, a critical unlocking mechanism to spur the world’s transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources so that we can achieve net zero faster.
To learn more about Renewable Suite, watch our recent webinar:
“The Future of Renewable APM: How Intelligent Solutions are Changing the Game”
Facing climate change won’t be easy: Recognizing progress (and responsibility) is important.
Every day, we are bombarded with new and more damning evidence that global warming is accelerating and the damages from human-caused climate change are getting worse, not better. We must face these facts and deal with them urgently, with action and not empty words. And not just on Earth Day.
But perhaps in the outcry that follows each negative climate change story, we are drowning out some of the positive developments that hardworking environmentalists and world leaders are driving forward. We can’t give in to a defeated attitude, and we need to celebrate our wins, too. Last year saw significant progress, like the groundbreaking agreement coming out of COP27 that wealthier countries would provide “loss and damage” funding for countries most affected by (and least equipped to respond to) the damaging effects of climate change in the coming years. Other wins from 2027 include a bipartisan climate treaty phasing out a class of chemicals called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) used in refrigerators and air conditioners that are worse than carbon dioxide at heating up the planet when they leak. The COP15 meeting in Montreal produced an international accord to protect species from extinction and halt the decline of the lands, skies, and waters where they live. Our oceans are now protected by a legal framework called the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) with targets to implement National Park-style conservation and management of at least 30% of the world’s land, coastal areas, and oceans, restoration of 30% of terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and more. The list of achievements since the last Earth Day is impressive and ongoing.
The most important message of Earth Day is the recognition that we are all in this together, sharing and caring for the only planet we’ve got to live on. And at an individual level, there’s much that we can do.
The United Nations suggests we start with ten actions to help limit climate change.
Save energy at home. Much of our electricity and heat are powered by coal, oil and gas. Use less energy by lowering your heating and cooling, switching to LED light bulbs and energy-efficient electric appliances, washing your laundry with cold water, or hanging things to dry instead of using a dryer. Improving your home’s energy efficiency, through better insulation for instance, or replacing your oil or gas furnace with an electric heat pump can reduce your carbon footprint by up to 900 kilograms of CO2e per year.
Walk, bike, or take public transport. The world’s roadways are clogged with vehicles, most of them burning diesel or gasoline. Walking or riding a bike instead of driving will reduce greenhouse gas emissions — and help your health and fitness. For longer distances, consider taking a train or bus. And carpool whenever possible. Living car-free can reduce your carbon footprint by up to 2 tons of CO2e per year compared to a lifestyle using a car.
Eat more vegetables. Eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and less meat and dairy, can significantly lower your environmental impact. Producing plant-based foods generally results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions and requires less energy, land, and water. Switching from a mixed to a vegetarian diet can reduce your carbon footprint by up to 500 kilograms of CO2e per year (or up to 900 kilograms for a vegan diet).
Consider your travel. Airplanes burn large amounts of fossil fuels, producing significant greenhouse gas emissions. That makes taking fewer flights one of the fastest ways to reduce your environmental impact. When you can, meet virtually, take a train, or skip that long-distance trip altogether. Taking one less long-haul return flight can reduce your carbon footprint by up to almost 2 tons of CO2e.
Throw away less food. When you throw food away, you’re also wasting the resources and energy that were used to grow, produce, package, and transport it. And when food rots in a landfill, it produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. So use what you buy and compost any leftovers. Cutting your food waste can reduce your carbon footprint by up to 300 kilograms of CO2e per year.
Reduce, reuse, repair, recycle. Electronics, clothes, and other items we buy cause carbon emissions at each point in production, from the extraction of raw materials to manufacturing and transporting goods to market. To protect our climate, buy fewer things, shop second-hand, repair what you can, and recycle. Every kilogram of textiles produced generates about 17 kilograms of CO2e. Buying fewer new clothes – and other consumer goods – can reduce your carbon footprint and also cut down on waste.
Change your home’s source of energy. Ask your utility company if your home energy comes from oil, coal or gas. If possible, see if you can switch to renewable sources such as wind or solar. Or install solar panels on your roof to generate energy for your home. Switching your home from oil, gas or coal-powered energy to renewable sources of energy, such as wind or solar, can reduce your carbon footprint by up to 1.5 tons of CO2e per year.
Switch to an electric vehicle. If you plan to buy a car, consider going electric, with more and cheaper models coming on the market. In many countries, electric cars help reduce air pollution and cause significantly fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gas or diesel-powered vehicles. But many electric cars still run on electricity produced from fossil fuels, and the batteries and engines require rare minerals which often come with high environmental and social costs. Switching from a gasoline or diesel-powered car to an electric vehicle can reduce your carbon footprint by up to 2 tons of CO2e per year. A hybrid vehicle can save you up to 700 kilograms of CO2e per year.
Make your money count. Everything we spend money on affects the planet. You have the power to choose which goods and services you support. To reduce your environmental impact, choose products from companies who use resources responsibly and are committed to cutting their gas emissions and waste. If you have money that is being invested for you, through a pension fund for instance, it may be supporting fossil fuels or deforestation. Making sure your savings are invested in environmentally sustainable businesses can greatly reduce your carbon footprint.
Speak up. Speak up and get others to join in taking action. It’s one of the quickest and most effective ways to make a difference. Talk to your neighbors, colleagues, friends, and family. Let business owners know you support bold changes. Appeal to local and world leaders to act now. Climate action is a task for all of us. And it concerns all of us. No one can do it all alone – but we can do it together.
To our employees and customers around the world, we hope you have a great Earth Day weekend—and continue to do your part to invest in our beautiful planet.