Club of Amsterdam Journal, February 2023, Issue 251

Journals Archive
Journals – Main Topics
The Future Now Shows



Lead Article

Spotting plastic waste from space and counting the fish in the seas: here’s how AI can help protect the oceans
by Philipp Bayer, Ahmed Elagali, Julie Robidart, The University of Western Australia, and Kate Marie Quigley, James Cook University

Article 01

Artificial intelligence and algorithms: pros and cons
y DW Documentary, Tilman Wolff and Ranga Yogeshwar

The Future Now Show

Open Data and Our Net Zero Future
with Gavin Starks & Miss Metaverse

Article 02

What is net zero?
by The Economist

News about the Future

> Axiom Space
> XPENG X2 Electric Flying Car

Article 03

Simon Beck gigantic snow art

Recommended Book

Big Data Mining for Climate Change
Zhihua Zhang (Editor), Jianping Li (Editor)

Article 04

Digital technologies for biodiversity protection and climate action: Solution or COP out?
by James Stinson, York University, Canada and Lee Mcloughlin, Florida International University

Climate Change Success Story



Futurist Portrait

Jason Schenker
Financial Market Futurist

Africa, Artificial Iintelligence, Arts, Australia, Biodiversity, Brazil,
Climate Change, Data, Data Mining, Europe, Fish, Flying Car,
India, International Space Station, Net Zero, Ocean, Open Data,
Plastic, Recycling, Waste

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Felix B Bopp

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Gavin Starks: At Icebreaker One we’re making data work harder to deliver net zero. We’re promoting the idea that companies publish their reports, data, and metadata in a way that can be properly indexed.

Jason Schenker: Businesses have an incredible opportunity to leverage data to their advantage, but only if they can harness the power of that data to yield real, valuable, and actionable insights. This course examines some of the hottest trends in data, including The Internet of Things, Machine Learning, Data Visualization, and Big Data. The Future of Data explains what these terms mean, and how they could impact you. This course also illustrates proper data collection and analysis process management, and how to effectively present your data.

Lead Article

Spotting plastic waste from space and counting the fish in the seas: here’s how AI can help protect the oceans
by Philipp Bayer, Adjunct Research Fellow, UWA Oceans Institute, The University of Western Australia; Ahmed Elagali, Research associate, The University of Western Australia; Julie Robidart, Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, UWA Oceans Institute, The University of Western Australia, and Kate Marie Quigley, Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, James Cook University


Philipp Bayer


Ahmed Elagali


Julie Robidart


Kate Marie Quigley




You’ve seen the art AI image generators can create, and you may have played with natural language AI chatbots. You’ve benefited from artificial intelligence tools recommending you music and suggesting your next streaming show.

But AI can do much more. Humans are excellent at spotting patterns. It’s why we see faces on Mars or in the clouds. But in some areas, AI is even better. Give one of these tools a million photographs and ask it to spot telltale signs – and it can. AI can enable research at scales previously impossible.

We’ve used AI’s exceptional pattern recognition to trawl through satellite images and map the tonnes of plastic pollution threatening our seas – in real time. Already, this technique has found more than 4,000 unreported informal dumps next to rivers. This is useful, given just ten rivers contribute nearly all the plastic entering our oceans.

This is just the start. So far, AI has shown promise in our projects mapping seagrass meadows from space and finding unknown reefs likely to harbour heat-resilient coral. Soon, we hope we’ll be able to put AI on the job to find out exactly what fish live where – without ever seeing them.

fish school reef

How many fish are there in the sea? AI could make possible real-time tracking of fish species.

Is AI really a gamechanger for science?

Yes. Think of the vast volumes of data scientists have gathered in recent decades. Until now, trawling through the data has been painstaking and at times tedious. That’s because while detecting patterns is something humans do well, we’re slower.

AI mines large data sets, which can be anything from photos to numbers. You train it so it knows what you’re looking for. Then the software tool gets to work, detecting patterns – and importantly, offering up predictions about how these patterns arise.

These methods are especially powerful for messy and complex biological data. For example, the AI tool AlphaFold has totally revolutionised the slow process of understanding how proteins fold themselves into origami-like shapes inside cells. Previously, it might have taken months or years to figure out a single protein structure. This year, AlphaFold announced predicted structures for 200 million proteins.

What can AI offer ecology?

We’ve found AI useful at finding unknown reefs with corals primed to survive despite warming waters. That’s vital, given the oceans have taken up almost all of the heat trapped by the trillion tonnes of greenhouse gases we’ve put in the atmosphere.

And we’ve found AI can usefully identify specific environmental conditions under which reefs will survive as the oceans heat up. Our research suggests hundreds of reefs among the thousands in the Great Barrier Reef may be home to corals which have higher heat tolerance than normal. Now we know this, we can protect these reefs – and turn to them for potential use to restore dying reefs elsewhere.

coral fragment

Finding naturally heat-resilient corals could help us safeguard reef ecosystems.

This idea of “super reefs” isn’t new. Other researchers have focused on protecting 50 coral reefs globally in the hope of safeguarding these ecosystems against the expected mass coral death as water temperatures rise. What we have added was the discovery that AI can help find these heat-resilient corals. Without AI, it would have been like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

Spotting plastic waste from space would have been almost impossible before AI image detection programs became available. How does it work? Essentially, photos taken by European Space Agency satellites are scanned by AI to spot hidden plastic dumps. Then we refine it over time, to see if these sites are getting bigger – and if they’re close to rivers or lakes, which could carry plastics into the seas and add to the millions of tonnes of turtle-choking, fish-killing plastics already swilling around.

The goal is to find the sites at highest risk of adding to ocean plastics. Once we know this, enforcement agencies in each of the 112 countries we’ve mapped can respond to the most urgent problems first. So far we’ve found more than 4,000 sites, with around one in five within 200 metres of a waterway. When we looked at Indonesia in detail, we found double the number of publicly listed dump sites.

Irawaddy delta from space

You could trawl through millions of satellite images looking for hidden plastic waste dumps - or you could train an AI tool and let the software do the work.

AI is also proving itself as a labour-saver. One part of science often hidden to the general public is the sheer number of manual, repetitive tasks. For instance, if you want to figure out why some baby coral polyps survive heat or more acid water while others die, you have to measure colour, growth and survival rates over time. We’ve found AI can do this work, precisely and fast.

Of course, AI is not magic. It is a tool, and all tools have pitfalls. One problem is placing too much trust in AI outputs, believing them true because the algorithm has seen more data than we have. But this is dangerous, as the confidently wrong answers given by the new ChatGPT AI demonstrate.

Ecology isn’t free from biases either. That means we have to carefully evaluate the data we use to train the AI. Plus, we have to remain vigilant and manually evaluate AI predictions to figure out if they fit with our reality. AI is a valuable assistant for ecologists – not a replacement.

floating weather buoy

Automatic weather buoys already exist. It won’t be long until we can build AI water sampling drones to tell us about life underneath.

What’s next?

Imagine having autonomous floating or underwater drones sampling seawater, with AI neural networks looking for fish DNA. It sounds like sci-fi, but it’s now entirely possible. Drone technology has matured. AI tools have arrived. And we no longer need to catch fish to know what lives in the seas. All you need are tiny traces of environmental DNA marine species leave behind in water. Similarly, we could track coral reef ecosystem health in near real time.

This will let us take the pulse of these ecosystems at a time when our oceans are under unprecedented pressure from industrial fishing, marine heatwaves and acidification from climate change, and plastic pollution. The more we know, the better we can respond. The Conversation

Philipp Bayer
, Adjunct Research Fellow, UWA Oceans Institute,
The University of Western Australia; Ahmed Elagali, Research associate, The University of Western Australia; Julie Robidart, Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, UWA Oceans Institute, The University of Western Australia, and Kate Marie Quigley, Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, James Cook University


This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.


Article 01

Artificial intelligence and algorithms: pros and cons
by DW Documentary, Tilman Wolff and Ranga Yogeshwar

Developments in artificial intelligence (AI) are leading to fundamental changes in the way we live. Algorithms can already detect Parkinson's disease and cancer, and control both cars and aircraft. How will AI change our society in the future?

This documentary journeys to the hot spots of AI research in Europe, the USA and China, and looks at the revolutionary developments which are currently taking place. The rapid growth of AI offers many opportunities, but also many dangers. AI can be used to create sound and video recordings which will make it more and more difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction. It will make the world of work more efficient and many professions superfluous. Algorithms can decide whether to grant loans, who is an insurance risk, and how good employees are. But there is a huge problem: humans can no longer comprehend how algorithms arrive at their decisions. And another big problem is AI’s capacity for widespread surveillance. The Chinese city of Rongcheng is already using an AI-supported 'social credit system' to monitor and assess its citizens. Does AI pose a danger to our personal freedoms or democracy? Which decisions can we leave to the algorithms - and which do we want to? And what are AI’s social implications?

A documentary by Tilman Wolff and Ranga Yogeshwar

Tilman Wolff


Ranga Yogeshwar





The Future Now Show

Open Data and Our Net Zero Future

with Gavin Starks & Miss Metaverse

Data should be as open as possible, while protecting people’s privacy, commercial confidentiality and national security. Data from multiple organisations is needed to address challenges and the data needs to be accessible. Open Net Zero is a starting point for net-zero data infrastructure built to address commercial, non-commercial, government and public needs. It is designed to help make net-zero data discoverable, accessible and usable.

There is substantial Open Data related to net zero (e.g. company disclosures) and we aim to make this far more discoverable than it is today. 

However, much of the data needed to drive net-zero decisions is not openly licensed or free for anyone to use. We aim to make this data more discoverable. To address restricted usage, we are building a Trust Framework for data sharing — enabling Shared Data to be discovered and licensed at scale. 





Gavin Starks
CEO & Founder of Icebreaker One
London, United Kingdom

Icebreaker One
Demand Logic
Dgen network
Open Data Institute



Katie (Miss Metaverse™) King
Futurist and Content Creator
Cary, North Carolina, USA

Felix B Bopp
Producer of The Future Now Show

The Future Now Show

You can find The Future Now Show also at

LinkedIn: The Future Now Show Group
YouTube: The Future Now Show Channel


Article 02

What is net zero?

by The Economist

More than 50 countries around the world have pledged to become net zero. But what does net zero actually mean — and is it achievable?







News about the Future

> Axiom Space
> XPENG X2 Electric Flying Car

Axiom Space

Axiom Space operates missions to the International Space Station (ISS) for customers, including space agencies, companies, and individuals. Axiom Space is also the builder and future owner and operator of Axiom Station, the successor to the ISS.

Axiom Space’s team has peerless space station construction and operations management experience and has been involved with every ISS mission since the program’s inception over two decades ago. Axiom Space is the only company with the privilege of connecting its modules to the ISS during the new station’s assembly in Earth’s orbit.

This connection allows Axiom Space to build the successor station cost-effectively, while adopting the multinational user base and select hardware from the ISS.

  • Established in 2016 to build the world's first commercial space station
  • Leveraging the International Space Station to become its natural successor by 2031
  • 1st Axiom Station module on schedule to launch and attach to the ISS in late 2025
  • $2 Billion in customer contracts & awards
  • $400 million in customer payments received
  • 4 space launches purchased from launch provider SpaceX
  • First private astronaut crew to the ISS was a 17-day mission launched on April 8, 2022; the second mission is planned for late Spring 2023
  • Multiple international partnership agreements in place

XPENG X2 Electric Flying Car

The XPENG X2 is the fifth-generation flying car independently developed and manufactured by XPENG AEROHT. For the first time, the X2 adopts an enclosed cockpit with a minimalist teardrop-shaped design and a sci-fi appearance that takes high-efficient aerodynamics into account to achieve the ultimate in-flight performance. In order to reduce weight, the XPENG X2 has a complete carbon fiber structure.

XPENG AEROHT, an affiliate of XPeng Inc., is the largest flying car company in Asia. Integrating intelligent vehicles and modern aviation, we are dedicated to producing the safest intelligent electric flying car for individual users. In the future, we will provide products and solutions in the field of 3D transportation.



Article 03

Simon Beck gigantic snow art


Simon Beck is a British snow artist and a former cartographer. Referred to as the world's first snow artist, he is primarily known for his landscape drawings and sculptures created from snow and sand.



Recommended Book

Big Data Mining for Climate Change
by Zhihua Zhang (Editor), Jianping Li (Editor)

Climate change mechanisms, impacts, risks, mitigation, adaption, and governance are widely recognized as the biggest, most interconnected problem facing humanity. Big Data Mining for Climate Change addresses one of the fundamental issues facing scientists of climate or the environment: how to manage the vast amount of information available and analyse it. The resulting integrated and interdisciplinary big data mining approaches are emerging, partially with the help of the United Nation's big data climate challenge, some of which are recommended widely as new approaches for climate change research. Big Data Mining for Climate Change delivers a rich understanding of climate-related big data techniques and highlights how to navigate huge amount of climate data and resources available using big data applications. It guides future directions and will boom big-data-driven researches on modeling, diagnosing and predicting climate change and mitigating related impacts.

This book mainly focuses on climate network models, deep learning techniques for climate dynamics, automated feature extraction of climate variability, and sparsification of big climate data. It also includes a revelatory exploration of big-data-driven low-carbon economy and management. Its content provides cutting-edge knowledge for scientists and advanced students studying climate change from various disciplines, including atmospheric, oceanic and environmental sciences; geography, ecology, energy, economics, management, engineering, and public policy.

Prof. Zhihua Zhang

Taishan Distinguished Professor

Leader of Big Data Mining for Climate Change Research Group
Director of Climate Modeling Laboratory
Shandong University, China

Prof. Zhang uses big data mining methods to model, diagnosis, and predict climate change and related impacts. He has published more than 50 first-authored articles, some of which were reported by New Scientist (UK), China Science Daily, and China Social Science Daily.  


Prof. Jianping Li

Jianping Li is a professor at the State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology and the College of Global Change and Earth System Sciences (GCESS). He is also vice-chair of the IUGG Union Commission on Climatic and Environmental Change (CEC) and Executive Secretary General of the International Commission of Climate (ICCL). His research interests include climatic dynamics and predictability, monsoon, and annular modes. He is also co-editor of the title Dynamics and Predictability of Large-Scale, High-Impact Weather and Climate Event (Cambridge, 2016).


Article 04

Digital technologies for biodiversity protection and climate action: Solution or COP out? 
by James Stinson, York University, Canada and Lee Mcloughlin, Florida International University



James Stinson


Lee Mcloughlin



Digital technologies like drones are being heavily promoted to address the threats of climate change and biodiversity loss. (Unsplash)
James Stinson, York University, Canada and Lee Mcloughlin, Florida International University

With biodiversity declining at unprecedented rates and less than a decade remaining to avert the worst effects of climate change, world leaders and policymakers are on the hunt for new and innovative solutions. In the halls and meeting rooms of global COP conferences, digital technologies have been heavily promoted to address these interrelated threats to our ecosystem.

At the recent COP27 climate conference in Egypt, the Forest Data Partnership — a global consortium co-ordinated by the World Resources Institute (WRI) in partnership with the U.S. Department of State, NASA, Google and Unilever — called for a “global alliance to unlock the value of land use data to protect and restore nature.” The WRI promoted its Land and Carbon Lab to measure carbon stocks associated with land use.

Nature4Climate — a coalition of 20 environmental organizations — revealed a new online platform to help implement natural climate solutions. They also exhibited a report on the “nature tech market.” At the COP15 biodiversity conference in Montréal, NatureMetrics, a provider of nature intelligence technology, launched a new digital dashboard to enable standardized measurements of the health of ecosystems.

Many, however, see such efforts as a dangerous push to get untried and untested corporate technologies accepted as “nature-positive solutions” in the Convention on Biological Diversity and climate negotiations.

As researchers examining the role of technologies in biodiversity monitoring and protected area management, we find that these digital technologies have the potential to yield positive results, if co-developed and used ethically with Indigenous Peoples.

Conservation and Big Tech

The influence of the tech industry in environmental governance has grown considerably over the past decade. Tech giants like Microsoft, IBM, Google and Amazon, as well as philanthropic counterparts like the Bezos Earth Fund, have invested significantly in technologies to address global environmental issues.

A graphical representation of a person using digital tools for green solutions.

Today, technologies are transforming the world’s forests and oceans into new frontiers of digital commoditization and investment.
(One Earth/Wageningen University & Research), CC BY-NC-ND

Microsoft’s $50 million “AI for Earth” program, for instance, aims to “transform the way we monitor, model and ultimately manage Earth’s natural resources through grants, technology and access to data.” Such programs, including the Forest Data Partnership, have helped establish partnerships involving philanthropic, academic, non-governmental, public and private sector institutions.

They not only transform conservation, but natural environments as well. The deployment of digital technologies throughout natural environments, from satellites and aerial sensors to drones, camera traps and wearable sensors, has transformed the Internet of Things into an internet of trees, oceans and wildlife.

In our new economic context, in which data is the new oil, such technologies also transform the world’s forests and oceans into new frontiers of digital commoditization and investment.

Climate action or corporate greenwashing?

Critics warn, however, that these techno-centric solutions are simply corporate greenwashing and that they actually intensify biodiversity loss and climate change. While Microsoft, Amazon and Google tout the use of their technologies for environmental good, they continue to sell cloud computing and artificial intelligence services to oil companies around the world.

A Microsoft building

Research on Microsoft’s AI For Earth program shows that its cloud computing and AI products help oil companies better extract and distribute oil.
(AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Research on Microsoft’s “AI For Earth” program shows that it greenwashes Microsoft’s corporate reputation, while its cloud computing and AI products are promoted to help oil companies better extract and distribute oil. Its vast data centres also use significant amounts of electricity, much of which comes from fossil fuels.

While Microsoft does attempt to offset its emissions by investing in California’s Klamath East project, a stretch of protected woodland managed by a forest products company, its carbon offsets have literally gone up in smoke in recent wildfires.

Similar claims have been made about Amazon and its environmental programs. While Amazon Web Services advertises its support for conservation and climate action, the company continues to drive greenhouse gas emissions by offering its cloud computing and AI services to the oil and gas sector.

In a critique of the Forest Data Partnership, the environmental organization Greenpeace argued that it is “nothing but a green light for eight more years of forest destruction, with little respect for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities.” It also argued that this allows polluters to do more business as usual through “carbon trickery instead of advancing true climate action.”

Technology for a just and sustainable future

At COP15 there has been a critical parallel movement to support Indigenous-led conservation to meet global biodiversity and climate change commitments.

Making up just five per cent of the global population, Indigenous Peoples steward 36 per cent of our remaining intact forests and 80 per cent of the world’s biodiversity.

Digital technologies, however, often marginalize local and Indigenous communities in conservation by supporting a shift toward more militarized and coercive approaches to conservation that position communities as targets of surveillance and policing.

hands holding a phone

Can these digital technologies truly support community and Indigenous-led conservation?
(James Stinson), Author provided

Given these concerns, it is important to think critically about the role of digital technologies in global biodiversity and climate frameworks. Can these digital technologies truly support Indigenous-led conservation, climate action and reconciliation with the Earth?

The first step to this would include monitoring new technologies in the new biodiversity and climate frameworks. Digital tools must not be used to maintain the status quo by securing carbon credits and corporate profits. Instead, they need to be co-developed ethically and used with Indigenous Peoples and land defenders to protect their rights to — and control over — the environments they cultivate, care for and protect. The Conversation

James Stinson, Postdoctoral Fellow, Dahdaleh Institute of Global Health Research and Faculty of Education, York University, Canada and Lee Mcloughlin, PhD student Global Sociocultural Studies, Florida International University



This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.




Climate Change Success Story


Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects. The recovery of energy from waste materials is often included in this concept. The recyclability of a material depends on its ability to reacquire the properties it had in its original state. It is an alternative to "conventional" waste disposal that can save material and help lower greenhouse gas emissions. It can also prevent the waste of potentially useful materials and reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, reducing energy use, air pollution (from incineration) and water pollution (from landfilling).

Recycling is a key component of modern waste reduction and is the third component of the "Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle" waste hierarchy. It promotes environmental sustainability by removing raw material input and redirecting waste output in the economic system. There are some ISO standards related to recycling, such as ISO 15270:2008 for plastics waste and ISO 14001:2015 for environmental management control of recycling practice.

Recyclable materials include many kinds of glass, paper, cardboard, metal, plastic, tires, textiles, batteries, and electronics. The composting and other reuse of biodegradable waste — such as food and garden waste — is also a form of recycling. Materials for recycling are either delivered to a household recycling center or picked up from curbside bins, then sorted, cleaned, and reprocessed into new materials for manufacturing new products.

In ideal implementations, recycling a material produces a fresh supply of the same material — for example, used office paper would be converted into new office paper, and used polystyrene foam into new polystyrene. Some types of materials, such as metal cans, can be remanufactured repeatedly without losing their purity. With other materials, this is often difficult or too expensive (compared with producing the same product from raw materials or other sources), so "recycling" of many products and materials involves their reuse in producing different materials (for example, paperboard). Another form of recycling is the salvage of constituent materials from complex products, due to either their intrinsic value (such as lead from car batteries and gold from printed circuit boards), or their hazardous nature (e.g. removal and reuse of mercury from thermometers and thermostat. - Wikipedia


Top 10 awesome RECYCLING BUSINESSES with high profit in future
by Eco Snooki



HOW TO START A WASTE RECYCLING BUSINESS IN AFRICA (2022), best waste recycling business ideas
by Business in Africa



How People Profit Off India’s Garbage | World Wide Waste
by Insider Business



Empowering urban recycling cooperatives in Brazil
by Earthworm Foundation


Recycling revolutionary Veena Sahajwalla turns old clothes into kitchen tiles | Australian Story
by ABC News In-depth



Turning Human Waste into Renewable Energy?
by Undecided with Matt Ferrell




Waste and recycling

Managing waste in an environmentally sound manner and making use of the secondary materials they contain are key elements of the EU’s environmental policy.


EU waste policy aims to contribute to the circular economy by extracting high-quality resources from waste as much as possible. The European Green Deal aims to promote growth by transitioning to a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy. As part of this transition, several EU waste laws will be reviewed. 

The Waste Framework Directive is the EU’s legal framework for treating and managing waste in the EU. It introduces an order of preference for waste management called the “waste hierarchy”.

Certain categories of waste require specific approaches. Therefore, as well as the overarching legal framework, the EU has many laws to address different types of waste.

Read more about the Waste Framework Directive


5 tonnes of waste Only 38% Over 60%
is produced by the average European each year of waste in the EU is recycled of household waste still goes to landfill in some EU countries



EU waste policy aims to protect the environment and human health and help the EU’s transition to a circular economy. It sets objectives and targets to

  • improve waste management
  • stimulate innovation in recycling
  • limit landfilling



Futurist Portrait

Jason Schenker
Financial Market Futurist


Jason Schenker is the world’s top ranked Financial Market Futurist. He is the Chairman of the Futurist Institute® and the President of Prestige Economics. Mr. Schenker advises executives, corporate boards, public corporations, private companies, central banks, and governmental bodies. As the Chairman of the Futurist Institute®, Mr. Schenker has been the driving force behind creating a professional certification program to help analysts and economists become futurists. He also leads in-person futurist training courses, gives speeches on futurist topics, and he directs forecasting, risk management, scenario planning, and strategic consulting projects of The Futurist Institute®.

The Fog of Data: Navigating Data to Derive Implications, Unlock Value, Get Buy-In, and Increase Transparency
by Jason Schenker

Rapidly increasing volumes of data have made the push to derive data implications more challenging. And there are political risks and challenges posed by a rabid democratization of information sharing, social media, and fake news. In The Fog of Data, Chairman of The Futurist Institute, Jason Schenker, describes the best ways to navigate data challenges -- and how to derive valuable data insights.


Disruptions: Real or Imagined - The Future of Transportation - Jason Schenker at Transparency18
by FreightWaves





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