Odyssey In Two Biospheres

When the first explorers gazed from their space capsule back to earth, they realized profoundly that our blue planet was beautiful and dynamic and it was alive. It was a transforming experience – one of love and an overwhelming feeling of being deeply connected to this biosphere while they transited remotely apart in their steel space shuttle. Their experience gave us the understanding that we live in one biosphere – we are part of it and its evolution. It is our home.

We have a similar story, although ours is not about going into space, it is about living in two biospheres. The first one is Biosphere 1 – our earth’s biosphere – the one that we are all born into and are part of. The second one is Biosphere 2 –- a 3.15 acre miniature world under sealed glass, -built in the Arizona desert – our life support system where we lived for two years. A perfect laboratory to study global ecology.

From September 26 1991 to September 26 1993, 8 of us – from the UK, Belgium & USA – embarked on a mission to live in this baby biosphere with other microbes, plants, fungi and animals. We knew how BIO2 was designed, where its boundaries reached, how finite its resources were, and in what ways our daily actions impacted this miniature world. We learned how to live with the evolving system and become stewards of its wellbeing.

This experience heralded a shift in our consciousness – similar to the one the astronauts experienced. We became part of this unique man-made biosphere. Our health was synonymous with the health of BIO2 – there was no separation.

Despite the interpersonal challenges between the crew, we were united in our care for BIO2. After all, we were part of it – its first inhabitants & co-creators. It was the gluethat held us together for we were not alone nor separated from one another.

Our journey in BIOSPHERE2 led us back home – home to our earths biosphere. The little world taught us to see with new eyes. We are one people – neighbors from each others back yard. We breathe the same air – nourish ourselves with the same water & food – and share the same earth, the fire of life on earth. It is our home – allof our home. How we learn to live intelligently together and with all life, is the most important thing for us to contemplate and act upon, because everything we do has an impact, for better or worse, on our planet and ourselves. Our future is in our hands.

We threw to the bottom of the sea, All that we learned was of no use to us: We begin again, we end again death and life. And here we survive, pure, with the purity we created, Broader than the earth that could not lead us astray Eternal as the fire that will burn As long as life endures.

Pablo Neruda