Could AI's thirst for computing power impact the climate? Photo via envato.

Elephant names, river rights and the climate cost of AI

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Like it or not, the AI revolution is here – and from fake news to forged exams, it’s already making us lose our collective grip on reality.

Now, to make matters worse, it could send us surging past 1.5 degrees of warming.

In this ThinkLandscape round-up, we count the climate cost of AI, scrutinize the EU’s new restoration law and reveal how drug trafficking threatens wildlife.

This month on ThinkLandscape

Venice crowds
Crowds in Venice, Italy. Levi van Leeuwen, Unsplash.

Jetting off for the holidays? Here’s how you can do your bit to make tourism more sustainable.

You’ve probably heard about ‘forever chemicals.’ But what are they, really – and just how much harm are they causing us?

Want to grow your own trees? Here’s a five-step guide on how to start a tree nursery.

In 2022, Pakistan suffered its worst-ever floods. Two years on, we take a look at how the country is slowly getting back on its feet.

What will forests look like in 2050? We were at the 26th IUFRO World Congress to find out. (Bonus: here’s what forests mean to the people we met.)

Some of our most important forests are located in Central Africa. Here’s how we can protect them.

What we’re reading

Smoke from wildfires looms over Athens in 2021. Anasmeister, Unsplash.

Climate

Generally speaking, it’s hot.

So hot that over 60 percent of humanity experienced extreme heat last month, which also marked 13 consecutive months of record-breaking heat.

Heatwaves have taken an especially brutal toll on South Asia, where people are dying in droves (and the true death toll is probably higher) – not to mention simultaneous floods and wildfires.

It’s not hot everywhere: in South Africa, winter storms have made thousands homeless in Cape Town alone, mainly affecting the city’s poorest.

Could air pollution pose an even greater risk that previously thought? Photo by Aulia Erlangga/CIFOR.

People

The Summer Olympics will kick off in Paris later this month, but athletes fear extreme heat could turn the games lethal.

Are European farmers really against green policies? Not at all, says one smallholder union.

If you live near a gas pipeline, beware: methane leaks could be filling your home with other toxic compounds.

Last month, we reported that microplastics could be causing infertility. As it turns out, air pollution could have similar effects.

An elephant rests its trunk on its tusk. David Clode, Unsplash.

Planet

What would it take to save the world’s most endangered species? All we’d have to do is protect 1.2 percent of the Earth’s land.

Don’t do drugs, kids: you may be threatening rare tropical birds in Central America.

A quarter-century of civil war decimated Mozambique’s wildlife. Here’s the story of how the country restored one of its most important national parks.

Elephants aren’t all that different from us. They show empathy, use tools, mourn their dead – and, it turns out, call each other by name.

AI could have a serious impact on the climate. Photo via envato.

Business

Just how bad is AI for the climate? For starters, typing one prompt into ChatGPT uses up to 90 times as much energy as a regular Google search.

Speaking of which, Google has admitted that its AI data centers have sent its greenhouse gas emissions soaring.

Guyana is riding an oil boom, but it’s also highly vulnerable to climate disasters. Should it cash in anyway?

It’s been a year since France banned some short-haul domestic flights. Has it worked?

Are ships accidentally geoengineering the climate? New rules on sulfur dioxide could be making the climate crisis worse.

Ecuador’s capital Quito, where a court has ruled that pollution is violating the rights of a river. Photo via envato.

Policy

After months of deadlock, the EU has finally passed a landmark law to protect 20 percent of its land and seas by 2030. Stay tuned for our full analysis later this month.

In Ecuador, nature has constitutional rights – and a court has ruled that pollution is violating the rights of a river running through the country’s capital.

Earlier this year, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Switzerland is violating human rights through its climate inaction. Now, Swiss politicians are disputing the ruling.

It’s looking increasingly likely that Donald Trump could return to the U.S. presidency next year. What could that mean for the climate?

Topics

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