While bitcoin’s effect on the environment has been discussed at length over the last two years, the latest trend of artificial intelligence (AI) software is now being criticized for its carbon footprint. According to several headlines and academic papers this year, AI consumes significant electricity and leverages copious amounts of water to cool data centers.
Reports Insist AI and Chatgpt Consumes a Ton of Electricity and Water
In recent times, environmentalists have aimed their targets at various technologies, and during the last 24 months, a great deal of focus has been directed at bitcoin mining. Now, the insatiable drive to reduce carbon footprints is aimed at the artificial intelligence (AI) trend that has taken the world by storm. There’s no doubt that AI has been extremely popular in 2023, with Openai’s Chatgpt program and others releasing innovative new software. However, several articles and scholarly papers claim that AI is consuming a massive amount of energy and has a significant carbon footprint.
According to a report published by Bloomberg, “AI uses more energy than other forms of computing.” The article employs a tactic used by members of the media to make it seem like machines are taking away energy from humans. “Training a single [AI] model can gobble up more electricity than 100 U.S. homes use in an entire year,” insist Bloomberg authors Josh Saul and Dina Bass. The report further notes that while researchers have estimated a total on how much energy creating an AI model takes, there is no overall estimate for the total amount of power the technology uses.
Meanwhile, an academic paper published by students from the University of Colorado Riverside and the University of Texas Arlington claims that not only does Chatgpt use a lot of electricity, but it also leverages water to cool down data centers. The paper cites that the technology giant Microsoft uses so much water to cool its United States AI facilities that it could be used for “370 BMW cars or 320 Tesla electric vehicles.” The paper further claims that training the GPT-3 model consumed 185,000 gallons of water.
Mark Labbe, an author at techtarget.com, insists that “data centers and large AI models use massive amounts of energy and are harmful to the environment.” Another article from numenta.com also insists that AI is “harming” the planet, and the author claims the trend could accelerate the climate crisis if not addressed. Not everyone agrees with the studies and alarming headlines, as many believe the so-called climate crisis is a lie. For example, a report published by the Gatestone Institute claims that climate alarmism is harmful to the West.
“Future generations will judge us harshly for allowing extremist environmental activism to enfeeble us in the West,” explains Drieu Godefridi, the author at the Gatestone Institute. Meteorologist John Shewchuk insists that climate alarmism is a scam. “Climate scam alarmism is no substitute for data,” Shewchuk tweeted on April 16. “Our primate ancestors evolved when temperatures were about 20 degrees F warmer than today—and there were no polar ice caps. The earth is now relatively very cold—and getting climatologically colder.”
From Bitcoin, to AI and Then to Rice Farming — Climate Activists Insist the Science Is Settled
Additionally, climate alarmists are not just going after bitcoin mining and artificial intelligence. A recent report from Agence France-Presse (AFP) is being criticized for blaming rice farming for significant CO2 emissions. “Scientists say that if the world wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, rice cannot be ignored,” AFP’s report says. AFP’s tweet on Sunday was criticized by several individuals for reporting that rice farming causes CO2 emissions. “What can’t be ignored is the FACT that rice is literally the top food source for billions of people,” one person replied to the AFP Twitter account. “Eliminating rice would kill millions by starvation… and some people like you [AFP] are good with that.”
The United States representative for Kentucky’s 4th congressional district, Thomas Massie, also criticized AFP’s video tweet. “The fact that climate wokes are going after rice shows you how illogical they are,” Massie said. “Mature forests release large amounts of methane. Ponds and lakes release methane. Decomposing organic matter in the absence of oxygen (or in the guts of herbivores and termites) releases methane,” he added. The truth is that people now think that subjective valuations and arbitrary opinions of what is good for the planet and what is not should be investigated and regulated.
While bitcoin provides economic freedom as a censorship-resistant currency, some argue that it must also address climate change concerns. Just like bitcoin, the environmental impact of artificial intelligence and rice farming has also come under scrutiny. While many follow the rules and regulations set by climate change experts and bureaucrats, others hold contrarian views and argue that the science is not settled.
What are your thoughts on the environmental impact of AI models and how it compares to the criticism against bitcoin mining? Share your thoughts about this subject in the comments section below.