Pushing Our Limits: Insights from Biosphere 2

Pushing Our Limits: Insights from Biosphere 2

by Mark Nelson


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Pushing Our Limits is a fresh examination of Biosphere 2, the world’s first man-made mini-world, twenty-five years after its first closure experiment. Author Mark Nelson, one of the eight crew members locked in the enclosure during the 1991–1993 experiment, offers a compelling insider’s view of the dramatic story behind Biosphere 2.

Biosphere 2 helped change public understanding of what our global biosphere is and how it provides for our health and well-being. However, the experiment is often dismissed as a failure, and news outlets at the time focused on interpersonal conflicts and unexpected problems that arose. Delving past the sensationalism, Nelson presents the goals and results of the experiment, addresses the implications of the project for our global situation, and discusses how the project’s challenges and successes can change our thinking about Biosphere 1: the Earth.

Pushing Our Limits offers insights from the project that can help us deal with our global ecological challenges. It also shows the intense and fulfilling connection the biospherians felt with their life support system and how this led to their vigilant attention to its needs.

With current concerns of sustainability and protection of our global biosphere, as well as the challenge of learning how to support life in space and on Mars, the largest, longest, and most important experiment in closed ecosystems is more relevant than ever. The book explores Biosphere 2’s lessons for changing technology to support and not destroy nature and for reconnecting people to a healthy relationship with nature.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780816537327
Publisher: University of Arizona Press
Publication date: 02/27/2018
Pages: 328
Sales rank: 922,756
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Dr. Mark Nelson was a member of the eight-person “biospherian” crew for the first two-year closure experiment. He is a founding director and the chairman of the Institute of Ecotechnics and has worked for decades in closed ecological system research, ecological engineering, the restoration of damaged ecosystems, desert agriculture and orchardry, and wastewater recycling. He is the author of The Wastewater Gardener: Preserving the Planet One Flush at a Time and co-author of Space Biospheres and Life Under Glass: The Inside Story of Biosphere 2.

Table of Contents

Preface: What Have I Gotten Myself Into? vii

Acknowledgments xv

1 Build a Biosphere: What Were We Thinking? 3

2 Meet the Biospherians 18

3 A Technosphere that Protects and Serves Life 31

4 "Every Breath You Take, Every Step You Make" 45

5 Carbon Dioxide: Atmospheric Management of a Small World 55

6 Farming as If There Were a Tomorrow 71

7 Déjà Vu: The Water Recycles 98

8 Wilderness Biomes 113

9 Building a Rainforest 124

10 What's a World Without an Ocean? 138

11 They're Mangroves, Not Mangoes! 149

12 Down from the Trees: Sweet Home, Our Savanna 157

13 The Desert Goes Its Own Way 166

14 Oxygen: The Missing Element 174

15 Humans: The Most Unstable Element 185

16 Connected! The Biospherian Experience 210

17 Re-entry 221

18 The Afterglow 229

Conclusion: A Time to Tear Down, A Time to Rebuild 253

Notes 265

Index 293

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