Public awareness and concern about climate change often do not match the magnitude of its threat to humans and our environment. One reason for this mismatch is that it is difficult for us to mentally simulate the effects of processes as complex as climate change and to visualize the impact that our actions will have on our individual and collective future, especially if the consequences of our actions are abstract and only apparent in the long term.
To overcome these challenges, a team of researchers at the Université de Montréal, led by Yoshua Bengio, is using artificial intelligence (AI) to develop a personalized and interactive visualization tool that helps members of the public to travel through time and imagine these consequences by visualizing the possible future impact of climate change in a personalized way.
The project includes more than 10 students, with backgrounds in AI, climate science and psychology, who are working together to create a website to create an address for seeing a visual picture of the possible future in 2050 or 2100, generated by AI techniques. The visualization will be accompanied by information available about the science behind climate change, e.g., why extreme meteorological phenomena are becoming more frequent and what types of climate change are occurring on the local and world levels. The user will also be able to activate levers of change, which demonstrate in a visual manner the impact of personal choices such as the use of mass transit, the reduction of air travel and changes to diet, as well as collective choices such as changes in carbon prices on the regional and national levels.
The projects objective is to make the consequences of climate change seem more concrete and raise public awareness about the impact of the huge scope of climate change that will affect every person on Earth in the medium or long term.