Innovative Technology in Responding to Climate Change: The GTEC/Lunge Collaboration - GTEC Green Technology Education Centre

It starts with One,
One person,
One neighbourhood,
One community,
One city,
One province,
One country
One Earth.
We are One.

The power of One cannot be understated in the achievement of something as daunting and overwhelming as an effective response to climate change. We are the Ones who created the climate change crisis and we are the Ones who must act to avert this crisis and reverse the ravages of climate change. There is no other way.

The collective actions of many Ones acting in a concerted, coordinated, and consistent manner is powerful, effective, and required of each of us, now. Time is of the essence.

We need a bottom-up, grass roots, action-based movement to complement the legislation and regulations that governments must enact. Knowledge or lack thereof can no longer be our excuse for inaction.

The time to act is now.

The cause of our climate change crisis is and continues to be the collective actions of humanity. The solution must come from the same source. We must sincerely reassess and temper our wants and how we go about addressing them. We must change our behavior if we expect to continue to inhabit the Earth as our home as we have known it.

What is the key to motivating larger numbers of people to respond robustly to the climate crisis?

As we have learned from our work in the fitness and nutrition sectors, awareness of the immanent tragedy of an unhealthy lifestyle is often insufficient to change destructive lifestyle habits. It remains bewildering and perplexing that people would act so irrationally and against their long-term self-interest when the science and the evidence are so abundantly clear. Science affirms that the primary motivation of all living organisms, from our most basic single celled creatures to complex multi-celled creatures, is the need to survive. Somehow human beings, the most advanced of all creatures, have rationalized and justified behaviors that serve to undermine our long-term survival. However, I contend that we are not self-destructive, but rather, we tend to avoid short term discomfort even at the expense of long-term benefits, and we feel otherwise entitled, which enhances both optimism and our denial. This lethal combination of short sightedness and entitlement leads to complacency and inaction.

The challenge for those of us concerned about the climate crisis is to apply these insights into human behavior and motivation toward actions that are sustainable and provide a long-term benefit to our shared commons. How can we frame the climate issue into an acute, urgent and tangible crisis that motivates individuals to take immediate and sustained action?

The current COVID -19 pandemic is testament to the ability of all levels of government, business, society, and quite frankly, the whole world, to mobilize and take action in the face of a global crisis. Our reaction to this pandemic may serve as the blueprint in our fight to save our planet from climate change. The COVID-19 pandemic also painfully illustrates the costs of denial and delaying action. There are researchers who have hypothesized that global warming and the melting of our global permafrost could lead to the release of deadly ancient viruses and bacteria that have remained dormant since the ice age. In such a scenario the scourge upon our humanity would be on the scale or greater than the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As the COVID -19 pandemic is top of mind at present, this could be the catalyst that creates the necessary acute, urgent and tangible crisis that motivates individual to take action with regard to climate change.

Like the current response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our world needs both a top down and bottom up approach. The guidance from the top (government) must be complemented with the actions from the bottom (people). There is immense power in the collective actions of hundreds, thousands, millions, and billions of people motivated to work in concert for the common. Individually and collectively we must act with focus and consistency.

We must utilize the reach of media to disseminate the message, and the power of technology to coordinate the social “nudges” (both the “carrot” and the “stick”), and to track the results of our individual and collective actions. Technology is a highly effective utility and tool that has the capacity to rapidly connect large masses of people and coordinate their efforts. When technology is complemented with face to face live interaction there is a level of accountability and sustainability that will ensure behavior change.

Collaborating with the Green Technology Education Centre (GTEC), Lunge Systems is a Vancouver-based technology company that has built an artificial intelligence-based solution to help plan, organize, monitor and improve targeted action in the fight against climate change. Our proprietary framework enables individuals, communities, organizations and governments to act, track, estimate and amplify their positive impact towards stopping the effects of climate change. It incorporates an intelligent priority assessment wizard which uses machine learning algorithms that identify and customize goals for its users. Climate-action wisdom is distilled from scientific research, credible evidence and expert research documents, which are then codified by identifying best practices on achieving the goals. The end-user sees a roadmap on his/ her calendar outlining what he/she is supposed to do and when. Lunge Environment leverages the data from users’ actions to estimate the impact of individual and collective actions. The actions and resulting outcomes data is fed back into the system to improve the AI engine and the suggestion models in real-time. This enables the system to enhance the conventional benchmark wisdom, rendering this smart climate-action AI technology as a true game-changer.

The GTEC/Lunge Environment framework is an effective single user platform; however, its true power lies in its group or multiple-users functionalities. A dominant “pain point” among individuals, households, and small groups is the perception that their climate change efforts will have an insignificant impact on the climate crisis. GTEC/Lunge Environment was specifically designed for collective action by helping communities and groups to organize, prioritize, scale up and showcase the impact of their actions. Specific (tools)? such as group actions, gamification, peer-group comparison, climate goal or target-based interest groups all have built-in network effects. The aggregate quantification of the efforts of communities and groups of users serves to embolden individuals and households to feel that their efforts do have an impact; this will have a positive multiplier effect on the recruitment and adoption of the technology from other communities and groups.

The other major issue is that there is so much information out there that it is hard to distinguish credible insights from the noise. The GTEC/Lunge Environment framework can: 1. Comb through millions of documents on climate-change and identify actionable goals from them; 2. Classify those goals’ climate-change priority target areas; 3. Build a taxonomy of measurable outcomes, and; 4. Create an ontology of potential actions to achieve those outcomes. In addition, the GTEC/Lunge Environment provides an intuitive interface that allows a “community administrator” (or an organization’s Chief Sustainability Officer) to define the community’s own framework that is then used as the benchmark for its users. Our metadata-driven technology adapts and creates a customized wisdom engine for each community. Therefore, a climate-change action set up in GTEC/Lunge Environment for New York City will have different priorities, goals, targets and recommended actions than say Lunge Environment: Mexico City.

The third and currently more important area where the GTEC/Lunge Environment technology offers world-changing potential is global action without the need for prior consensus or agreement. Communities, organizations and governments can define what they feel should be their goals and which progress matrices should be tracked and they can also specify/select the preferred or recommended roadmaps or action paths for their members, employees or citizens. The technology avoids the pitfalls of a non-benevolent administrator misguiding the individuals, by allowing the users to skip the initial assessment/recommendation at the sign-up and define their own individual action paths (from goals to outcomes to actions). Moreover, after a while, GTEC/Lunge Environment’s AI models and algorithms will improve the system’s climate-action recommendations by observing incorporating individual users’ data and evidence. Over time, the “limitations” of starting benchmark wisdom will become less and less relevant.

At this time in the history of our civilization we are precariously teetering on the brink of catastrophic calamity. We must act, think, and believe that we are One, if there is any hope for the salvation of our Earth for our future generations. In the words of The Three Musketeers, “All for One and One for All”

Brief Bios

Norman Sam

Norman Sam is Co-Founder of Lunge Systems (http://www.lunge.ai). Prior to Lunge Systems, He co-founded a corporate wellness company that provided workplace wellness services to many of B.C.’s largest public and private sector institutions and firms. Previously he worked in real estate development in California, Arizona, Ontario, and the Lower Mainland. Norman is a graduate of UBC and BCIT with specialties in finance and hospitality management.

Abhay Gupta

Abhay Gupta is Co-Founder of Lunge Systems (http://www.lunge.ai) . Earlier, he was a consultant for EIB-GDN Program in Applied Development Finance where he supervised an international team of researchers working on generating insights into private sector projects financed under European Investment Bank’s Impact Financing Envelope.

Abhay is an economist and has previously worked at House of Commons (Parliament Budget Office) in Ottawa, Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Paris and The Conference Board, New York.
He has a PhD in Economics from University of British Columbia, Vancouver and B Tech from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. Abhay has also worked in ICT sector as an analyst and software engineer.