Earth Day 2020, Taking Action on Climate Change

By | 3 minute read | April 22, 2020

The theme for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day 2020 is climate action. Not merely just the enormous challenge we face, but also the vast opportunities everyone can take advantage of to help solve climate change, one of the most pressing topics of our time.

There are so many ways to get involved–from changing how we consume and live, to building sustainable solutions that will help our collective tomorrow.

For example, have you ever thought about changing to renewable energy to help save the planet but had no clue where to start? You’re not alone.

One increasingly common way is switching your home to renewable energy, which can be confusing for homeowners. Even with good intentions, if a solar energy provider were to ask us how many panels we would need on our house, we would have no idea. In general, most of us don’t know the first step to becoming more energy conscious.

IBM researchers wanted to change that. And what started as a small, local project in South Africa has now spread much wider.

The free web-app they designed — Empower Solar — to help homeowners and small businesses actually start using solar energy and not just wish they could — and it’s now available nearly all over the world.

With the Empower Solar app, anyone can share their location in the app, their household’s typical daily energy use, and the app will do all the complex electrical engineering calculations to recommend the most cost-effective option.  The recommendation includes how many solar panels and batteries the homeowner would need, and also specifies the other necessary components such as a charge controller and an inverter, and the approximate cost for all of them. Read more here.

Credit: IBM Research










IBM offers plenty of resources for developers looking to help other individuals and organizations with climate change, too.

For example, the Energy Sustainability “Starter Kit” is intended to help developers build open source solutions for related challenges. Technologies such as AI, IoT, and blockchain can help individuals, communities, and utility companies harness their data to increase efficiency and reduce expenditures.

The Starter Kit was originally created to support those participating in the Call for Code® Global Challenge, a multi-year global initiative that rallies developers, visionaries, and problem solvers with technical and non-technical backgrounds to create solutions that can have an immediate and lasting impact on humanitarian issues. In the Energy Sustainability Starter Kit, developers can learn how to create a prototype climate impact rating system, with an API Server and data stored in a CouchDB instance using Cloudant, which together provides a framework to build out further rating components.

This year’s Call for Code Global Challenge –University Edition started this week with a virtual kickoff event that IBM held with partner the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U). The 2020 Global Challenge contains two tracks. The first is to address the world’s reaction to the COVID-19 public health crisis, and the second is climate change — two pressing issues that have the power to compromise our health, our planet, and our survival. You can find more details on the full competition and how to enter here.

Because the good news is, regardless of your technical know-how, these digital resources are tools for anyone to take action and join in the fight against climate change for this 50th Earth Day.

By bringing together everyone—from homeowners, to start-ups and the academic community, as well as enterprise developers—we can all become inspired to solve the most pressing societal issues of our time.