Introduced Lemu at COP 26 in Glasgow during the Future Lab: Carbon Removals panel moderated by Gabrielle Walker.
Gabrielle Walker: Our final panelist is Leo Prieto, he’s the CEO of Lemu in Chile. He’s really a very brilliant entrepreneur and he’s going to bring in an aspect of tech that I don’t think we’ve quite thought about in the whole carbon removal space so, Leo, over to you.
Leo Prieto: Well, Gabrielle, thank you very much. As we’ve been hearing from all the panelists, this is a massive challenge and I don’t want to downplay the challenge, but I am very optimistic and I really believe that we’re doing good progress, I’m seeing that progress.
We have the privilege of living in a time, in an era, where science and technology are allowing us to do almost anything we can imagine. At the same time we live in an amazing planet with a wide variety of life forms, life that only exists in this part of the universe — as far as we know.
And we’re lucky enough to realize that we can’t let these tools and this amazing planet go to waste, and more and more people are waking up to the fact that we need to take advantage of that.
And I’m seeing those millions of sustainable innovations that Sir David Attenborough mentioned last week. This new industrial revolution. And that gets me very excited. And I’m lucky to be working with an amazing team building one of those innovations which is Lemu.
Lemu is an atlas of the biosphere. Imagine something like Google Maps, but for nature. Where instead of seeing streets or human infrastructure you see species and you see ecosystems, and this helps us to connect and understand the nature that surrounds us. We use satellites and ethical AI — which is a very important combination, not just AI, ethical AI. It’s very important how we use these technologies.
Gabrielle: AI, artificial intelligence.
Leo: Artificial intelligence, exactly, with a responsible and ethical way of applying this very disruptive technology that is artificial intelligence.
We use something called aerial LiDAR, which is basically airplanes with lasers (but don’t worry these are not the lasers that you see in Star Wars, these are harmless infrared lasers), we use something that Julio [Friedmann] mentioned earlier which is environmental DNA sampling: We take samples from soil and water to understand the biodiversity in ecosystems, in a very non-invasive way.
But most importantly we use something that we like to call “collective intelligence”: We work with all the data being generated by different organizations, by different institutions, by individuals like ourselves here, citizen scientists who are helping us gather all this information.
We use all these different sources of data to help us understand ecosystems, so that we can react quickly when we’re seeing deforestation, where we’re seeing degradation of an ecosystem, not only trying to protect the biodiversity that might be lost, but avoiding that ecosystem from becoming a carbon emitter. At the same time trying to react quickly to support the quality and the scale of the carbon being removed by a healthy ecosystem, and to support the reforestation and the restoration of ecosystems.
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