I recently received the May/June 2010 issue of Science Illustrated, one of my favorite magazines. The lead story introduces a new technological concept some scientists are getting into called "geoengineering." This would involve manipulation of the Earth itself to save humanity from predicted disasters of its own making, such as global warming. One of their ambitious ideas is to encircle the globe with gigantic mirror arrays that would reflect sunlight away from Earth. The payoff could be enormous, these scientists tell us, but the risks are also tremendous. I feel that this particular method of geoengineering is a classic case of attacking the disease by treating the symptoms while ignoring the cause. The problem with global warming is not in the amount of sunlight reaching Earth, but in the man-made greenhouse gases that trap more of its warmth and could potentially lead to a runaway greenhouse effect. It is dealing with these greenhouse gases from artificial sources right here on Earth and in our atmosphere that we will effectively address any problem of artificial warming, not by reengineering the planet from the outside in.
In his encyclical Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI has warned us of an error widely prevalent in the modern fields of science and technology, namely, the idea that we human beings must take complete control of Earth and determine our own destiny. Here I'd like to quote Bishop Thomas Wenski, whom the pope recently appointed as archbishop of Miami, Florida and who was himself quoting our Holy Father from Deus Caritas Est: "'We are only instruments in the Lord's hands; and this knowledge frees us from the presumption of thinking that we alone are personally responsible for building a better world.' In all humility we will do what we can, and in all humility we will entrust the rest to the Lord. It is God who governs the world, not we."
While seeking solutions to the great problems facing our twenty-first century world, humanity must trust more than ever in the Lord and in His infinite mercy.