Big Data Will Save Our Planet

Why we must heed the lessons of the past when it comes to weather


It is difficult to argue with numbers. Whether you are a CEO looking to optimise your supply chain or a consumer wondering whether to buy an electric car, it is increasingly clear that our choices will have an impact on the world that our children and their children will live in. The numbers are increasingly indisputable.

Predicting our climate has always been a tricky profession. There are so many factors that play a part, and ever since the infamous Michael Fish denied the 1987 hurricane that devastated huge swathes of the UK, weather forecasters have always been viewed with a certain amount of suspicion.

'They said it would be sunny today, so why is it raining?'

When we don’t understand the science behind the predictions, we are naturally sceptical of so-called experts who can get it so wrong every now and again. However, as the data revolution gathers pace in every area of our lives, the power of analytics is also opening our eyes to the factors that are killing our world.

We are not short of data on what is happening. Millions of records stretch back for decades, but for years we have been grappling with our immediate threats. Will there be a tsunami after the earthquake? How can we protect ourselves from flooding? Where will the hurricanes hit this year and how can we stop them from paralysing our lives? With weather science, we always seem to be on the back foot, but with improvements in Big Data analysis, it seems that the tide is finally turning.

According to Weather Analytics, 33% of global GDP is affected by the weather - our future prosperity is on the line as well as the survival of our planet itself. The Met Office supercomputer has two million GB of memory, 17,000TB of storage and performs 23,000 trillion operations per second. Things are a little more involved since Michael Fish’s days.

So, is it time to look into the past to predict the future? Certain rare phenomena can only be understood with an eye on previous events, and Big Data is increasingly being used to predict the outcomes of future events. Nature is a fundamentally unpredictable and complex system, but as with any system, there are certain rules. Big data is revealing connections on a scale of the fabled butterfly effect – the myths are being revealed, terabyte by terabyte.

So, for the sake of the future of our planet, it is time to trust this data a little more. In business, ignoring the data often simply means a missed opportunity. In the case of climate change, ignoring the data could prove fatal for the future of our children and their children.

Big Data could save our planet, but only if we take heed of what it is telling us.

Matt Reaney is the Founder of Big Cloud. Specialists in Big Data recruitment - connecting innovative organisations with the best talent in Data Analytics and Data Science.

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