Life Under Glass: Crucial Lessons in Planetary Stewardship from Two Years in Biosphere 2

Life Under Glass: Crucial Lessons in Planetary Stewardship from Two Years in Biosphere 2
by Abigail Alling, Mark Nelson and Sally Silverstone

Synergetic Press, Sante Fe, NM, 2020
Paper, 2nd Edition, $18.95; eBook, $9.99
ISBN: 978 090779 768 (pbk)
978 0907791 77 5 (eBook)

Reviewed by
Roger F. Malina
April 2020

I started reading “Life under Glass” just as the COVID 19 outbreak went exponential over the planet. I started reading more and more avidly because of a second coincidence: I was working on a paper on “creativity in extreme environments” with Kathryn Hays and Cris Kubli. The thinking process that the biospherians went through before being locked up, reminded me of the dress rehearsals we did for NASA rocket launches. The Biospherians underscored the important of the Declaration of Helsinki; the declaration requires that human research subjects be given the right to leave an experiment at any time. That’s great for Biosphere 2 and NASA dress rehearsals; but that escape does not exist for COVID 19 or the Anthropocene. Clearly the current situation is an extreme environment that changes the way human cognition functions just as zero gravity does or working in Antarctica for months without ever seeing the sun. Some of the lessons that the Biospherians learned seem trivial: For instance they ran out of shoes that wore out, but not out of pants. But the biospherian thinking process was an example of the emergence of a noosphere (cfr Vladimir Vernadsky) so that technics, or in my terms art, science, and technology, reinforces life and life reinforces the arts, sciences, and technics in an evolutionary sustainable way. Perhaps after the COVID 19 pandemic is controlled, it will be time to design Biosphere and 4 and 5 as dress rehearsals for the end of the Anthropocene.