- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: The University of Arizona Press (30 Dec. 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0816537321
- ISBN-13: 978-0816537327
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2 x 22.9 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 98,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Pushing Our Limits (The University of Arizona Pres) Paperback – 30 Dec 2017
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"A fascinating account of the largest, longest, and most important experiment in closed ecosystems ever conducted."--Chris McKay, Senior Scientist, NASA
"In the early 1990s eight people sealed themselves into a self-contained eco-system in the Arizona desert. Two decades later, Mark Nelson reflects on his experience inside Biosphere 2 as a microcosm of our global challenges with water, food, and energy. Only with a deep understanding of the biosphere's workings, Nelson argues, can humanity craft an ethical relationship with the planet Earth."--Melissa L. Sevigny, author of Under Desert Skies: How Tucson Mapped the Way to the Moon and Planets
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 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 Chairman of the Institute of Ecotechnics, and 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.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
However, this book has content that is not presented in either the tour or online course. I wanted to understand the history of Biosphere 2, specifically, the history of the enclosure experiments.
The book is well written and answers many of the questions I had regarding the original experiments. This book makes clear the tremendous amount of science, engineering and effort that went into building Biosphere 2 and preparing for the enclosure. Experts and scientists from all over the globe were involved in designing the biomes and structures.
Basically, it makes the bad press and criticism that Biosphere 2 received during the enclosure experiments seem petty and shallow. Anyone that says science wasn't being done, didn't do their homework.
The one area not covered in depth is the positions of the two factions that developed both inside and outside of Biosphere 2 during the two year enclosure experiment. The book give you a glimpse of the conflict but doesn't go into detail. This does not seem to be an oversight. It seems to be more intentional downplaying of a dispute that was resolved decades ago.
It would seem that one faction wanted to adhere to the original intent of Biosphere 2 and continue with extended human enclosure experiments, while the other side wanted to repurpose Biosphere 2, downplaying the sealed environment aspect to accommodate other experiments.
The book gives you the history of the original Biospherians, prior to the enclosure experiment. It outlines their years of training in the field, the amount of effort they put into helping bring Biosphere 2 to reality, as well as their commitment to the project. The argument that no science was being done because none of the Biospherians had science PHDs, is lame to say the least. I find myself wondering if "scientists" would have continued the experiment for two years and endured the hardships that the Biospherians faced.
Obviously, Biosphere 2 was repurposed. Not that it matters, but I would have loved to see the sealed enclosure experiments continue.
The conclusions section was, to my mind, quite optimistic, but Dr. Nelson gave adequate reason for his perspective. However, I am forced to take exception to the statement that the population growth rate needs to be reduced. First, perpetual population growth, at any level is unsustainable. Second, there is overwhelming evidence that the Earth is already seriously overpopulated. If we are going to live sustainably, controlling our population has to go hand in hand with controlling our consumption. Addressing consumption alone will not suffice.
If you are interested in Biosphere 2, this book is well worth reading.