Societal Adaptation & Resilience

Workshop Papers

Venue Title
NeurIPS 2023 Combining deep generative models with extreme value theory for synthetic hazard simulation: a multivariate and spatially coherent approach (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Climate hazards can cause major disasters when they occur simultaneously as compound hazards. To understand the distribution of climate risk and inform adaptation policies, scientists need to simulate a large number of physically realistic and spatially coherent events. Current methods are limited by computational constraints and the probabilistic spatial distribution of compound events is not given sufficient attention. The bottleneck in current approaches lies in modelling the dependence structure between variables, as inference on parametric models suffers from the curse of dimensionality. Generative adversarial networks (GANs) are well-suited to such a problem due to their ability to implicitly learn the distribution of data in high-dimensional settings. We employ a GAN to model the dependence structure for daily maximum wind speed, significant wave height, and total precipitation over the Bay of Bengal, combining this with traditional extreme value theory for controlled extrapolation of the tails. Once trained, the model can be used to efficiently generate thousands of realistic compound hazard events, which can inform climate risk assessments for climate adaptation and disaster preparedness. The method developed is flexible and transferable to other multivariate and spatial climate datasets.

Authors: Alison M Peard (University of Oxford); Jim Hall (University of Oxford)

NeurIPS 2023 Can Reinforcement Learning support policy makers? A preliminary study with Integrated Assessment Models (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Governments around the world aspire to ground decision-making on evidence. Many of the foundations of policy making — e.g. sensing patterns that relate to societal needs, developing evidence-based programs, forecasting potential outcomes of policy changes, and monitoring effectiveness of policy programs — have the potential to benefit from the use of large-scale datasets or simulations together with intelligent algorithms. These could, if designed and deployed in a way that is well grounded on scientific evidence, enable a more comprehensive, faster, and rigorous approach to policy making. Integrated Assessment Models (IAM) is a broad umbrella covering scientific models that attempt to link main features of society and economy with the biosphere into one modelling framework. At present, these systems are probed by by policy makers and advisory groups in a hypothesis-driven manner. In this paper, we empirically demonstrate that modern Reinforcement Learning can be used to probe IAMs and explore the space of solutions in a more principled manner. While the implication of our results are modest since the environment is simplistic, we believe that this is a stepping stone towards more ambitious use cases, which could allow for effective exploration of policies and understanding of their consequences and limitations.

Authors: Theodore LM Wolf (Carbon Re); Nantas Nardelli (CarbonRe); John Shawe-Taylor (University College London); Maria Perez-Ortiz (University College London)

NeurIPS 2023 Towards Recommendations for Value Sensitive Sustainable Consumption (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Excessive consumption can strain natural resources, harm the environment, and widen societal gaps. While adopting a more sustainable lifestyle means making significant changes and potentially compromising personal desires, balancing sustainability with personal values poses a complex challenge. This article delves into designing recommender systems using neural networks and genetic algorithms, aiming to assist consumers in shopping sustainably without disregarding their individual preferences. We approach the search for good recommendations as a problem involving multiple objectives, representing diverse sustainability goals and personal values. While using a synthetic historical dataset based on real-world sources, our evaluations reveal substantial environmental benefits without demanding drastic personal sacrifices, even if consumers accept only a fraction of the recommendations.

Authors: Thomas Asikis (University of Zurich)

ICLR 2023 A simplified machine learning based wildfire ignition model from insurance perspective (Papers Track)
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Abstract: In the context of climate change, wildfires are becoming more frequent, intense, and prolonged in the western US, particularly in California. Wildfires cause catastrophic socio-economic losses and are projected to worsen in the near future. Inaccurate estimates of fire risk put further pressure on wildfire (re)insurance and cause many homes to lose wildfire insurance coverage. Efficient and effective prediction of fire ignition is one step towards better fire risk assessment. Here we present a simplified machine learning-based fire ignition model at yearly scale that is well suited to the use case of one-year term wildfire (re)insurance. Our model yields a recall, precision, and the area under the precision-recall curve of 0.69, 0.86 and 0.81, respectively, for California, and significantly higher values of 0.82, 0.90 and 0.90, respectively, for the populated area, indicating its good performance. In addition, our model feature analysis reveals that power line density, enhanced vegetation index (EVI), vegetation optical depth (VOD), and distance to the wildland-urban interface stand out as the most important features determining ignitions. The framework of this simplified ignition model could easily be applied to other regions or genesis of other perils like hurricane, and it paves the road to a broader and more affordable safety net for homeowners.

Authors: Yaling Liu (OurKettle Inc); Son Le (OurKettle Inc.); Yufei Zou (Our Kettle, Inc.); mojtaba Sadgedhi (OurKettle Inc.); Yang Chen (University of California, Irvine); Niels Andela (BeZero Carbon); Pierre Gentine (Columbia University)

ICLR 2023 Mining Effective Strategies for Climate Change Communication (Papers Track)
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Abstract: With the goal of understanding effective strategies to communicate about climate change, we build interpretable models to rank tweets related to climate change with respect to the engagement they generate. Our models are based on the Bradley-Terry model of pairwise comparison outcomes and use a combination of the tweets’ topic and metadata features to do the ranking. To remove confounding factors related to author popularity and minimise noise, they are trained on pairs of tweets that are from the same author and around the same time period and have a sufficiently large difference in engagement. The models achieve good accuracy on a held-out set of pairs. We show that we can interpret the parameters of the trained model to identify the topic and metadata features that contribute to high engagement. Among other observations, we see that topics related to climate projections, human cost and deaths tend to have low engagement while those related to mitigation and adaptation strategies have high engagement. We hope the insights gained from this study will help craft effective climate communication to promote engagement, thereby lending strength to efforts to tackle climate change.

Authors: Aswin Suresh (EPFL); Lazar Milikic (EPFL); Francis Murray (EPFL); Yurui Zhu (EPFL); Matthias Grossglauser (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL))

ICLR 2023 Robustly modeling the nonlinear impact of climate change on agriculture by combining econometrics and machine learning (Proposals Track)
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Abstract: Climate change is expected to have a dramatic impact on agricultural production; however, due to natural complexity, the exact avenues and relative strengths by which this will happen are still unknown. The development of accurate forecasting models is thus of great importance to enable policy makers to design effective interventions. To date, most machine learning methods aimed at tackling this problem lack a consideration of causal structure, thereby making them unreliable for the types of counterfactual analysis necessary when making policy decisions. Econometrics has developed robust techniques for estimating cause-effect relations in time-series, specifically through the use of cointegration analysis and Granger causality. However, these methods are frequently limited in flexibility, especially in the estimation of nonlinear relationships. In this work, we propose to integrate the non-linear function approximators with the robust causal estimation methods to ultimately develop an accurate agricultural forecasting model capable of robust counterfactual analysis. This method would be a valuable new asset for government and industrial stakeholders to understand how climate change impacts agricultural production.

Authors: Benedetta Francesconi (Independent Researcher); Ying-Jung C Deweese (Descartes Labs / Georgia Insititute of Technology)

ICLR 2023 On the impact of small-data diversity on forecasts: evidence from meteorologically-driven electricity demand in Mediterranean zones. (Papers Track)
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Abstract: In this paper, we compare the improvement of probabilistic electricity demand forecasts for three specific coastal and island regions using raw and pre-computed meteorological features based on empirically-tested formulations drawn from climate science literature. Typically for the general task of time-series forecasting with strong weather/climate drivers, go-to models like the Autoregressive Integrated Moving Average (ARIMA) model are built with assumptions of how independent variables will affect a dependent one and are at best encoded with a handful of exogenous features with known impact. Depending on the geographical region and/or cultural practices of a population, such a selection process may yield a non-optimal feature set which would ultimately drive a weak impact on underline demand forecasts. The aim of this work is to assess the impact of a documented set of meteorological features on electricity demand using deep learning models in comparative studies. Leveraging the defining computational architecture of the Temporal Fusion Transformer (TFT), we discover the unimportance of weather features for improving probabilistic forecasts for the targeted regions. However, through experimentation, we discover that the more stable electricity demand of the coastal Mediterranean regions, the Ceuta and Melilla autonomous cities in Morocco, improved the forecast accuracy of the strongly tourist-driven electricity demand for the Balearic islands located in Spain during the time of travel restrictions (i.e., during COVID19 (2020))--a root mean squared error (RMSE) from ~0.090 to ~0.012 with a substantially improved 10th/90th quantile bounding.

Authors: Reginald Bryant (IBM Research - Africa); Julian Kuehnert (IBM Research)

NeurIPS 2022 Forecasting European Ozone Air Pollution With Transformers (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Surface ozone is an air pollutant that contributes to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths annually. Accurate short-term ozone forecasts may allow improved policy to reduce the risk to health, such as air quality warnings. However, forecasting ozone is a difficult problem, as surface ozone concentrations are controlled by a number of physical and chemical processes which act on varying timescales. Accounting for these temporal dependencies appropriately is likely to provide more accurate ozone forecasts. We therefore deploy a state-of-the-art transformer-based model, the Temporal Fusion Transformer, trained on observational station data from three European countries. In four-day test forecasts of daily maximum 8-hour ozone, the novel approach is highly skilful (MAE = 4.6 ppb, R2 = 0.82), and generalises well to two European countries unseen during training (MAE = 4.9 ppb, R2 = 0.79). The model outperforms standard machine learning models on our data, and compares favourably to the published performance of other deep learning architectures tested on different data. We illustrate that the model pays attention to physical variables known to control ozone concentrations, and that the attention mechanism allows the model to use relevant days of past ozone concentrations to make accurate forecasts.

Authors: Seb Hickman (University of Cambridge); Paul Griffiths (University of Cambridge); Alex Archibald (University of Cambridge); Peer Nowack (Imperial College London); Elie Alhajjar (USMA)

NeurIPS 2022 Temperature impacts on hate speech online: evidence from four billion tweets (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Human aggression is no longer limited to the physical space but exists in the form of hate speech on social media. Here, we examine the effect of temperature on the occurrence of hate speech on Twitter and interpret the results in the context of climate change, human behavior and mental health. Employing supervised machine learning models, we identify hate speech in a data set of four billion geolocated tweets from over 750 US cities (2014 – 2020). We statistically evaluate the changes in daily hate tweets against changes in local temperature, isolating the temperature influence from confounding factors using binned panel-regression models. We find a low prevalence of hate tweets in moderate temperatures and observe sharp increases of up to 12% for colder and up to 22% for hotter temperatures, indicating that not only hot but also cold temperatures increase aggressive tendencies. Further, we observe that for extreme temperatures hate speech also increases as a percentage of total tweeting activity, crowding out non-hate speech. The quasi-quadratic shape of the temperature-hate tweet curve is robust across varying climate zones, income groups, religious and political beliefs. The prevalence of the results across climatic and socioeconomic splits points to limits in adaptation. Our results illuminate hate speech online as an impact channel through which temperature alters societal aggression.

Authors: Annika Stechemesser (Potsdam Insitute for Climate Impact Research); Anders Levermann (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research); Leonie Wenz (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research)

NeurIPS 2022 Evaluating Digital Tools for Sustainable Agriculture using Causal Inference (Papers Track)
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Abstract: In contrast to the rapid digitalization of several industries, agriculture suffers from low adoption of climate-smart farming tools. Even though AI-driven digital agriculture can offer high-performing predictive functionalities, they lack tangible quantitative evidence on their benefits to the farmers. Field experiments can derive such evidence, but are often costly and time consuming. To this end, we propose an observational causal inference framework for the empirical evaluation of the impact of digital tools on target farm performance indicators. This way, we can increase farmers' trust via enhancing the transparency of the digital agriculture market, and in turn accelerate the adoption of technologies that aim to increase productivity and secure a sustainable and resilient agriculture against a changing climate. As a case study, we perform an empirical evaluation of a recommendation system for optimal cotton sowing, which was used by a farmers' cooperative during the growing season of 2021. We leverage agricultural knowledge to develop the causal graph of the farm system, we use the back-door criterion to identify the impact of recommendations on the yield and subsequently we estimate it using several methods on observational data. The results showed that a field sown according to our recommendations enjoyed a significant increase in yield 12% to 17%.

Authors: Ilias Tsoumas (National Observatory of Athens); Georgios Giannarakis (National Observatory of Athens); Vasileios Sitokonstantinou (National Observatory of Athens); Alkiviadis Marios Koukos (National Observatory of Athens); Dimitra A Loka (Hellenic Agricultural Organization ELGO DIMITRA); Nikolaos S Bartsotas (National Observatory of Athens); Charalampos Kontoes (National Observatory of Athens); Ioannis N Athanasiadis (Wageningen University and Research)

NeurIPS 2022 Forecasting Global Drought Severity and Duration Using Deep Learning (Proposals Track)
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Abstract: Drought detection and prediction is challenging due to the slow onset of the event and varying degrees of dependence on numerous physical and socio-economic factors that differentiate droughts from other natural disasters. In this work, we propose DeepXD (Deep learning for Droughts), a deep learning model with 26 physics-informed input features for SPI (Standardised Precipitation Index) forecasting to identify and classify droughts using monthly oceanic indices, global meteorological and vegetation data, location (latitude, longitude) and land cover for the years 1982 to 2018. In our work, we propose extracting features by considering the atmosphere and land moisture and energy budgets and forecasting global droughts on a seasonal and an annual scale at 1, 3, 6, 9, 12 and 24 months lead times. SPI helps us to identify the severity and the duration of the drought to classify them as meteorological, agricultural and hydrological.

Authors: Akanksha Ahuja (NOA); Xin Rong Chua (Centre for Climate Research Singapore)

NeurIPS 2022 Personalizing Sustainable Agriculture with Causal Machine Learning (Proposals Track) Best Paper: Proposals
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Abstract: To fight climate change and accommodate the increasing population, global crop production has to be strengthened. To achieve the "sustainable intensification" of agriculture, transforming it from carbon emitter to carbon sink is a priority, and understanding the environmental impact of agricultural management practices is a fundamental prerequisite to that. At the same time, the global agricultural landscape is deeply heterogeneous, with differences in climate, soil, and land use inducing variations in how agricultural systems respond to farmer actions. The "personalization" of sustainable agriculture with the provision of locally adapted management advice is thus a necessary condition for the efficient uplift of green metrics, and an integral development in imminent policies. Here, we formulate personalized sustainable agriculture as a Conditional Average Treatment Effect estimation task and use Causal Machine Learning for tackling it. Leveraging climate data, land use information and employing Double Machine Learning, we estimate the heterogeneous effect of sustainable practices on the field-level Soil Organic Carbon content in Lithuania. We thus provide a data-driven perspective for targeting sustainable practices and effectively expanding the global carbon sink.

Authors: Georgios Giannarakis (National Observatory of Athens); Vasileios Sitokonstantinou (National Observatory of Athens); Roxanne Suzette Lorilla (National Observatory of Athens); Charalampos Kontoes (National Observatory of Athens)

NeurIPS 2021 Being the Fire: A CNN-Based Reinforcement Learning Method to Learn How Fires Behave Beyond the Limits of Physics-Based Empirical Models (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Wildland fires pose an increasing threat in light of anthropogenic climate change. Fire-spread models play an underpinning role in many areas of research across this domain, from emergency evacuation to insurance analysis. We study paths towards advancing such models through deep reinforcement learning. Aggregating 21 fire perimeters from the Western United States in 2017, we construct 11-layer raster images representing the state of the fire area. A convolution neural network based agent is trained offline on one million sub-images to create a generalizable baseline for predicting the best action - burn or not burn - given the then-current state on a particular fire edge. A series of online, TD(0) Monte Carlo Q-Learning based improvements are made with final evaluation conducted on a subset of holdout fire perimeters. We examine the performance of the learned agent/model against the FARSITE fire-spread model. We also make available a novel data set and propose more informative evaluation metrics for future progress.

Authors: William L Ross (Stanford)

ICML 2021 Climate-based ensemble machine learning model to forecast Dengue epidemics (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Dengue fever is one of the most common and rapidly spreading arboviral diseases in the world, with major public health and economic consequences in tropical and sub-tropical regions. Countries such as Peru, 17.143 cases of dengue were reported in 2019, where 81.4% of cases concentrated in five of the 25 departments. When predicting infectious disease outbreaks, it is crucial to model the long-term dependency in time series data. However, this is challenging when performed on a countrywide level since dengue incidence varies across administrative areas. Therefore, this study developed and applied a climate-based ensemble model using multiple machine learning (ML) approaches to forecast dengue incidence rate (DIR) by department. The ensemble combined the outputs from Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) recurrent neural network and Categorical Boosting (CatBoost) methods to predict DIR one month ahead for each department in Peru. Monthly dengue cases stratified by Peruvian departments were analysed in conjunction with associated demographic, geographic, and satellite-based meteorological data for the period January 2010–December 2019. The results demonstrated that the ensemble model was able to forecast DIR in low-transmission departments, while the model was less able to detect sudden DIR peaks in some departments. Air temperature and wind components demonstrated to be the significant predictors for DIR predictions. This dengue forecast model is timely and can help local governments to implement effective control measures and mitigate the effects of the disease. This study advances the state-of-the-art of climate services for the public health sector, by informing what are the key climate factors responsible for triggering dengue transmission. Finally, this project summarises how important it is to perform collaborative work with complementary expertise from intergovernmental organizations and public health universities to advance knowledge and address societal challenges.

Authors: Rochelle Schneider (European Space Agency); Alessandro Sebastianelli (European Space Agency); Dario Spiller (Italian Space Agency); James Wheeler (European Space Agency); Raquel Carmo (European Space Agency); Artur Nowakowski (Warsaw University of Technology); Manuel Garcia-Herranz (UNICEF); Dohyung Kim (UNICEF); Hanoch Barlevi (UNICEF LACRO); Zoraya El Raiss Cordero (UNICEF LACRO); Silvia Liberata Ullo (University of Sannio); Pierre-Philippe Mathieu (European Space Agency); Rachel Lowe (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine)

ICML 2021 Wildfire Smoke Plume Segmentation Using Geostationary Satellite Imagery (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Wildfires have increased in frequency and severity over the past two decades, especially in the Western United States. Beyond physical infrastructure damage caused by these wildfire events, researchers have increasingly identified harmful impacts of particulate matter generated by wildfire smoke on respiratory, cardiovascular, and cognitive health. This inference is difficult due to the spatial and temporal uncertainty regarding how much particulate matter is specifically attributable to wildfire smoke. One factor contributing to this challenge is the reliance on manually drawn smoke plume annotations, which are often noisy representations limited to the United States. This work uses deep convolutional neural networks to segment smoke plumes from geostationary satellite imagery. We compare the performance of predicted plume segmentations versus the noisy annotations using causal inference methods to estimate the amount of variation each explains in Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) measured surface level particulate matter <2.5μm in diameter (PM2.5).

Authors: Jeffrey L Wen (Stanford University); Marshall Burke (Stanford University)

NeurIPS 2020 Formatting the Landscape: Spatial conditional GAN for varying population in satellite imagery (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Climate change is expected to reshuffle the settlement landscape: forcing people in affected areas to migrate, to change their lifeways, and continuing to affect demographic change throughout the world. Changes to the geographic distribution of population will have dramatic impacts on land use and land cover and thus constitute one of the major challenges of planning for climate change scenarios. In this paper, we explore a generative model framework for generating satellite imagery conditional on gridded population distributions. We make additions to the existing ALAE [30] architecture, creating a spatially conditional version: SCALAE. This method allows us to explicitly disentangle population from the model’s latent space and thus input custom population forecasts into the generated imagery. We postulate that such imagery could then be directly used for land cover and land use change estimation using existing frameworks, as well as for realistic visualisation of expected local change. We evaluate the model by comparing pixel and semantic reconstructions, as well as calculate the standard FID metric. The results suggest the model captures population distributions accurately and delivers a controllable method to generate realistic satellite imagery.

Authors: Tomas Langer (Intuition Machines); Natalia Fedorova (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology); Ron Hagensieker (

NeurIPS 2020 FireSRnet: Geoscience-driven super-resolution of future fire risk from climate change (Papers Track)
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Abstract: With fires becoming increasingly frequent and severe across the globe in recent years, understanding climate change’s role in fire behavior is critical for quantifying current and future fire risk. However, global climate models typically simulate fire behavior at spatial scales too coarse for local risk assessments. Therefore, we propose a novel approach towards super-resolution (SR) enhancement of fire risk exposure maps that incorporates not only 2000 to 2020 monthly satellite observations of active fires but also local information on land cover and temperature. Inspired by SR architectures, we propose an efficient deep learning model trained for SR on fire risk exposure maps. We evaluate this model on resolution enhancement and find it outperforms standard image interpolation techniques at both 4x and 8x enhancement while having comparable performance at 2x enhancement. We then demonstrate the generalizability of this SR model over northern California and New South Wales, Australia. We conclude with a discussion and application of our proposed model to climate model simulations of fire risk in 2040 and 2100, illustrating the potential for SR enhancement of fire risk maps from the latest state-of-the-art climate models.

Authors: Tristan C Ballard (Sust Global, Stanford University); Gopal Erinjippurath (Sust Global)

NeurIPS 2020 The Human Effect Requires Affect: Addressing Social-Psychological Factors of Climate Change with Machine Learning (Proposals Track)
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Abstract: Machine learning has the potential to aid in mitigating the human effects of climate change. Previous applications of machine learning to tackle the human effects in climate change include approaches like informing individuals of their carbon footprint and strategies to reduce it. For these methods to be the most effective they must consider relevant social-psychological factors for each individual. Of social-psychological factors at play in climate change, affect has been previously identified as a key element in perceptions and willingness to engage in mitigative behaviours. In this work, we propose an investigation into how affect could be incorporated to enhance machine learning based interventions for climate change. We propose using affective agent-based modelling for climate change as well as the use of a simulated climate change social dilemma to explore the potential benefits of affective machine learning interventions. Behavioural and informational interventions can be a powerful tool in helping humans adopt mitigative behaviours. We expect that utilizing affective ML can make interventions an even more powerful tool and help mitigative behaviours become widely adopted.

Authors: Kyle Tilbury (University of Waterloo); Jesse Hoey (University of Waterloo)

NeurIPS 2020 Privacy Preserving Demand Forecasting to Encourage Consumer Acceptance of Smart Energy Meters (Proposals Track)
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Abstract: In this proposal paper we highlight the need for privacy preserving energy demand forecasting to allay a major concern consumers have about smart meter installations. High resolution smart meter data can expose many private aspects of a consumer’s household such as occupancy, habits and individual appliance usage. Yet smart metering infrastructure has the potential to vastly reduce carbon emissions from the energy sector through improved operating efficiencies. We propose the application of a distributed machine learning setting known as federated learning for energy demand forecasting at various scales to make load prediction possible whilst retaining the privacy of consumers’ raw energy consumption data.

Authors: Christopher Briggs (Keele University); Zhong Fan (Keele University); Peter Andras (Keele University, School of Computing and Mathematics, Newcastle-under-Lyme, UK)

ICLR 2020 Understanding the dynamics of climate-crucial food choice behaviours using Distributional Semantics (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Developed countries must make swift movements toward plant-based diets in order to mitigate climate change and maintain food security. However, researchers currently lack clear insight into the psychological dimensions that influence food choice, which is necessary to encourage the societal adaptation of new diets. In this project, we use Skip-gram word embeddings trained on the ukWaC corpus as a lens to study the implicit mental representations people have of foods. Our data-driven insights expand on findings from traditional, interview-based studies by uncovering implicit mental representations, allowing a better understanding the complex combination of conscious and sub-conscious processes surrounding food choice. In particular, our findings shed light on the pervasiveness of meat as the ‘centre’ of the meal in the UK.

Authors: Claudia Haworth (University of Sheffield); Gabriella Viglioco (University College London)

ICLR 2020 Non-linear interlinkages and key objectives amongst the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (Papers Track)
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Abstract: The United Nations' ambitions to combat climate change and prosper human development are manifested in the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), respectively. These are inherently inter-linked as progress towards some of these objectives may accelerate or hinder progress towards others. We investigate how these two agendas influence each other by defining networks of 18 nodes, consisting of the 17 SDGs and climate change, for various groupings of countries. We compute a non-linear measure of conditional dependence, the partial distance correlation, given any subset of the remaining 16 variables. These correlations are treated as weights on edges, and weighted eigenvector centralities are calculated to determine the most important nodes. We find that SDG 6, clean water and sanitation, and SDG 4, quality education, are most central across nearly all groupings of countries. In developing regions, SDG 17, partnerships for the goals, is strongly connected to the progress of other objectives in the two agendas whilst, somewhat surprisingly, SDG 8, decent work and economic growth, is not as important in terms of eigenvector centrality.

Authors: Felix Laumann (Imperial College London); Julius von Kügelgen (MPI for Intelligent Systems, Tübingen & University of Cambridge); Mauricio Barahona (Imperial College London)

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Abstract: An increasingly important dimension in the quest for mitigation and monitoring of environmental change is the role of citizens. The crowd-based monitoring of local level anthropogenic alterations is essential towards measurable changes in different contributing factors to climate change. With the proliferation of mobile technologies here in the African continent, it is useful to have machine learning based models that are deployed on mobile devices and that can learn continually from streams of data over extended time, possibly pertaining to different tasks of interest. In this paper, we demonstrate the localisation of deforestation indicators using lightweight models and extend to incorporate data about wildfires and smoke detection. The idea is to show the need and potential of continual learning approaches towards building robust models to track local environmental alterations.

Authors: Arijit Patra (University of Oxford)

ICLR 2020 Machine Learning Approaches to Safeguarding Continuous Water Supply in the Arid and Semi-arid Lands of Northern Kenya (Proposals Track)
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Abstract: Arid and semi-arid regions (ASALs) in developing countries are heavily affected by the effects of global warming and climate change, leading to adverse climatic conditions such as drought and flooding. This paper explores the problem of fresh-water access in northern Kenya and measures being taken to safeguard water access despite these harsh climatic changes. We present an integrated water management and decision-support platform, eMaji Manager, that we developed and deployed in five ASAL counties in northern Kenya to manage waterpoint access for people and livestock. We then propose innovative machine learning methods for understanding waterpoint usage and repair patterns for sensor-instrumented waterpoints (e.g., boreholes). We explore sub-sequence discriminatory models and recurrent neural networks to predict water-point failures, improve repair response times and ultimately support continuous access to water.

Authors: Fred Otieno (IBM); Timothy Nyota (IBM); Isaac Waweru (IBM); Celia Cintas (IBM Research); Samuel C Maina (IBM Research); William Ogallo (IBM Research); Aisha Walcott-Bryant (IBM Research - Africa)

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Abstract: I propose the use of Machine Learning techniques such as Active Learning(AL) and Transfer Learning(TL) to translate climate information and adaption technique from major Western and Asian languages to thousands of low resource languages in the developing world. Studies have shown that access to information can help people assess the magnitude of the climate change challenge, possible options and those feasible within the relevant context (Nyahunda & Tiri-vangasi, 2019) I endeavor to demonstrate that if this information was available in a language the locals can understand, it would result in local empowerment and as a result inspire action.

Authors: Jefferson Sankara (Lori Systems)

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Abstract: The objective of the present paper is to review the climate change technology transfer. This research proposes a method for analysing CCTT using patent analysis and topic modelling. A collection of climate change mitigation related technology (CCMT) patents from patent databases would be used as input to group patents in several relevant topics for climate change mitigation using the topic exploration model in this research. The research questions we want to address are: how have the patenting activities changed over time in CCMT patents? And who are the technological leaders? The investigation of these questions can offer the technological landscape in climate change-related technologies at the international level. We propose a hybrid Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) approach for topic modelling and identification of relationships between terms and topics related to CCMT, enabling better visualizations of underlying intellectual property dynamics. Further, we propose predictive modelling for CCTT and competitor analysis to identify and rank countries with a similar patent landscape. The projected results are expected to facilitate the transfer process associated with existing and emerging climate change technologies and improve technology cooperation between governments.

Authors: Shruti Kulkarni (Indian Institute of Science (IISc))

NeurIPS 2019 Establishing an Evaluation Metric to Quantify Climate Change Image Realism (Papers Track)
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Abstract: With success on controlled tasks, generative models are being increasingly applied to humanitarian applications. In this paper, we focus on the evaluation of a conditional generative model that illustrates the consequences of climate change-induced flooding to encourage public interest and awareness on the issue. Because metrics for comparing the realism of different modes in a conditional generative model do not exist, we propose several automated and human-based methods for evaluation. To do this, we adapt several existing metrics, and assess the automated metrics against gold standard human evaluation. We find that using Frechet Inception Distance (FID) with embeddings from an intermediary Inception-V3 layer that precedes the auxiliary classifier produces results most correlated with human realism. While insufficient alone to establish a human-correlated automatic evaluation metric, we believe this work begins to bridge the gap between human and automated generative evaluation procedures.

Authors: Sharon Zhou (Stanford University); Sasha Luccioni (Mila); Gautier Cosne (Mila); Michael Bernstein (Stanford University); Yoshua Bengio (Mila)

NeurIPS 2019 A User Study of Perceived Carbon Footprint (Papers Track)
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Abstract: We propose a statistical model to understand people’s perception of their carbon footprint. Driven by the observation that few people think of CO2 impact in absolute terms, we design a system to probe people’s perception from simple pairwise comparisons of the relative carbon footprint of their actions. The formulation of the model enables us to take an active-learning approach to selecting the pairs of actions that are maximally informative about the model parameters. We define a set of 18 actions and collect a dataset of 2183 comparisons from 176 users on a university campus. The early results reveal promising directions to improve climate communication and enhance climate mitigation.

Authors: Victor Kristof (EPFL); Valentin Quelquejay-Leclere (EPFL); Robin Zbinden (EPFL); Lucas Maystre (Spotify); Matthias Grossglauser (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)); Patrick Thiran (EPFL)

NeurIPS 2019 Quantifying the Carbon Emissions of Machine Learning (Papers Track)
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Abstract: From an environmental standpoint, there are a few crucial aspects of training a neural network that have a major impact on the quantity of carbon that it emits. These factors include: the location of the server used for training and the energy grid that it uses, the length of the training procedure, and even the make and model of hardware on which the training takes place. In order to approximate these emissions, we present our Machine Learning Emissions Calculator, a tool for our community to better understand the environmental impact of training ML models. We accompany this tool with an explanation of the factors cited above, as well as concrete actions that individual practitioners as well as organizations can take to mitigate their carbon emissions.

Authors: Sasha Luccioni (Mila); Victor Schmidt (Mila); Alexandre Lacoste (Element AI); Thomas Dandres (Polytechnique Montreal)

ICML 2019 Unsupervised Temporal Clustering to Monitor the Performance of Alternative Fueling Infrastructure (Research Track)
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Abstract: Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) play an important role in the decarbonization of the transportation sector. For a wider adoption of ZEVs, providing a reliable infrastructure is critical. We present a machine learning approach that uses unsupervised temporal clustering algorithm along with survey analysis to determine infrastructure performance and reliability of alternative fuels. We illustrate this approach for the hydrogen fueling stations in California, but this can be generalized for other regions and fuels.

Authors: Kalai Ramea (PARC)