It was a glorious idea- build a giant terrarium and see if a self-sustaining microcosm of earth could keep people alive without importing food, water or even air. Constructed in the middle of nowhere in the 80's, the $ 200 million project did not quite worked as planned- the plants did not produce enough oxygen and air was quietly pumped in; crops failed; ants over-ran the joint. Yet such experiments are as valuable in their failure as in success, for they demonstrate the complexity of the problem and 25 years later demonstrate the folly of our playing with Biosphere 1, our planet.
It should have stood proudly in the desert for years-after all there is no water, it is too hot to live without air conditioning and it is far from cities and who would want to live in such an environment, particularly when electricity is going through the roof, gas is expensive and water supplies are imperilled?
Evidently lots of people, as the entire desert between Phoenix and Tuscon is turned into subdivisions. Fairfield Developments of Tuscon has bought all 1658 acres and has registered Biosphere Estates. Soon it will be crawling with yet more subdivisions and there is no guarantee that the Biosphere complex will be maintained.
Some, like James Howard Kunstler, suggest that these subdivisions in the Southwest Deserts will be the first the first to be abandoned when they cannot be affordably cooled or driven to. Certainly we find it incredible that they are still being built and that people are still buying them. Biosphere 2 should be allowed to outlast them all. ::New York Times