California teens chosen for using AI to tackle forest fires and to quickly provide accurate waste classification
Two Indian American teens and an Indian origin girl from Australia are among the five finalists for the 2021 Children’s Climate Prize who are working to “create impactful solutions for real problems plaguing the world.”
Reshma Kosaraju, 15, from Saratoga, California, was chosen for using artificial intelligence (AI) against forest fires, while Yash Narayan, 17, from San Carlos, California made it with his DeepWaste technology.
Anjali Sharma, 17, from Melbourne, Australia, was picked up for leading a class action lawsuit against the environment minister of Australia.
The winner to be revealed on Nov. 8 will receive 100,000 Swedish Kronor ($11,450), a diploma and a medal. This year’s prize will be presented in a digital broadcast in mid-November, according to a media release.
Read: Kailash Satyarthi named UN Sustainable Development Goals Advocate (September 18, 2021)
Award-winning nature photographer Aishwarya Sridhar from Navi, Mumbai, India, who was among the jury members said, “I was totally blown over by the sheer ingenuity and practical application of each of the finalist’s projects.”
“Each of them through their projects have addressed real problems which are plaguing our world and they are working to create impactful solutions. Seeing their work it also brought a sense of reassurance that with young people like them leading by example, the future is in the right hands.”
Kosaraju developed an artificial intelligence (AI) model that proactively predicts forest fires using meteorological data and other parameters. It takes into account both the weather in the region as well as other temporal factors to account for human behavior.
In selecting her project, the jury noted, “Climate change and forest fires mutually reinforce each other and wildfires, today, are in many locations larger, more intense and longer lasting.”
“Forest fires have increasingly become a global and topical issue. Reshma represents the best of youth entrepreneurship: brave, innovative and solution-oriented.
“Her model uses AI and technology in an innovative and savvy way in order to accurately predict the risk of forest fires while also accounting for the independent variables of climate, weather and human behavior.”
“A clear and scalable business concept, with a global approach to accessibility,” the jury said describing it as “an example of an extraordinary and creative solution based on a systemized approach.”
Yash Narayan’s DeepWaste is an easy-to-use mobile application that leverages powerful artificial intelligence algorithms to provide accurate and instantaneous waste classification.
In choosing his project, the jury noted, “Every year, a lot of unsorted waste is thrown away that is deposited or burned, which contributes to unnecessary emissions.”
“This is a huge problem and represents a challenge for our societies in order to achieve effective waste management,” it said. “Correctly sorted waste becomes a resource and forms the basis for the circular flow of resources.”
‘This is a measure that is absolutely necessary in order to achieve more sustainable consumption and is an example of something that we can all contribute to.”
“A resource-efficient circular economy can be perceived as complex and difficult,” the jury said, “but here Yash has found a good and interesting solution with great innovation.”
“DeepWaste is an impressive project, self-teaching, accessible, scalable, and the development potential is enormous,” it said noting, “Yash and DeepWaste are right on time and contribute to increased awareness and knowledge.”
Anjali Sharma led 7 other students in a legal lawsuit, a class action against the environment minister of Australia. This was heard in the highest court of Australia, the Federal Court.
Picking her for “tackling climate change in the courtroom,” the jury noted, “Too often, policymakers and leaders make decisions based on short-term financial considerations, even if that can have major negative impacts over a longer period of time.”
“The result may mean that future generations will have to bear the costs,” it said describing Anjali as “a colorful example of the power that more and more young people are flexing to achieve change.”
“And it also shows how young people can challenge entire industries and sectors by using the law. Anjali’s ability to mobilize is impressive and representative of a growing phenomenon in the world.”
“It takes courage to challenge the current power and established structures and succeed in achieving a ‘duty of care’ in a fossil fuel-heavy country such as Australia.”
“Anjali is a major pioneer and her legal wrangling is historic in Australia,” the jury said. “She is an inspiration for how young people can press for tangible changes and is therefore a role model for others.”
Awarded to “young people who have made extraordinary efforts for the climate and environment,” the Prize is supported and managed by the Children’s Climate Foundation initiated by founder Telge Energi.
Based on Telge Energi’s belief in young people’s ability to drive change in the world, the award is now a part of their ongoing work for sustainable development and production of renewable energy in Sweden.