Will ‘Playing God’ be our saviour?

In an article published in the Dominion Post , environmental author Mark Lynas explains why mankind must embrace technologies like nuclear power and geo-engineering if we are to survive the ‘age of the human’.

The article, syndicated from the UK paper The Telegraph, is derived from Lynas’ upcoming book The God Species: How the Planet Can Survive the Age of Humans.

An excerpt (read in full here):

Geo-engineering, nuclear power and climate change: playing God is good for the planet

We have the power and the technology to save the world, says Mark Lynas – but first we must put aside our doubts about nuclear energy and geo-engineering.

In May 2010, for only the second time in 3.7 billion years, a life form was created with no biological parent, out of a collection of inanimate chemicals. This transformation took place not in some primordial soup, still less the Garden of Eden, but in a Californian laboratory. And the Divine Creator was J Craig Venter, a world-renowned biologist, highly successful entrepreneur and one of the first sequencers of the human genome.

The Book of Genesis is full of instances of Man being punished for his attempts to become like God – yet with the primacy of science, God’s power is now increasingly being exercised by us. It is not just the dawn of Venter’s “synthetic biology” that gives humanity the potential to design and create life from scratch. On a planetary scale, humans now assert unchallenged dominion over all living things. Our collective power already threatens or overwhelms most of the major forces of nature, from the water cycle to the circulation of major elements like nitrogen and carbon.

We have levelled forests, ploughed up the great grasslands and transformed the continents to serve our demands. Our detritus gets everywhere, from the highest mountains to the deepest oceans. The productive capacity of a major part of the planet’s terrestrial surface is now dedicated to satisfying our demands for food, fuel and fibre, whilst the oceans are trawled around the clock for the fishy fats and proteins our brains and bodies demand. Somewhere between a quarter and a third of the “net primary productivity” of the planet – everything produced by plants using the power of the Sun – is devoted to sustaining this one species.