John Allen

John At Biosphere 2

Anyone suffering from the global warming blues will cherish this uplifting account of the most ambitious environmental experiment of our time:  Biosphere 2, a miniature Earth under glass, the world’s largest laboratory for global ecology. John Allen’s memoir, Me and the Biospheres is a rich and complex narrative, filled with rollicking adventure, exceptional camaraderie and mind-bending science.

Covering three acres of Arizona desert, Biosphere 2 contained seven biomes: a 900,000-gallon ocean with a coral reef, a rainforest, a savannah, a desert, a farm and a micro-city, all housed within an air-tight, sealed glass and steel frame structure. Eight people lived inside for two years (1991-1993) setting world records in human life-support, monitoring their impact on the environment, while providing crucial data for future manned missions into outer space.

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Almost as astonishing as the structure itself, is the story of how it came to be. Back in 1969, Biosphere 2 was a mere seed in the luminous mind of writer, actor, philosopher, inventor, and scientist John Allen.  He prepared for the manifestation of Biosphere 2 by assembling smaller projects: the creation of a ship to study ocean and river ecologies and cultures; a rainforest enrichment project; a theater group; a world-class art gallery and more. As awe-inspiring as the great cathedrals, Biosphere 2’s building and operation demanded the efforts of the diverse team of scientists, engineers, artists and thinkers from around the world who John Allen worked closely with for decades.

Me and the Biospheres also is an account of the singular life John Allen has led: his travels to Egypt, Vietnam, Nepal, Tibet and India; and his meetings with people including Buckminster Fuller, William Burroughs, Charles Mingus, and Ornette Coleman. From building developments in Iran to adobe houses in New Mexico, from Harvard Business School to cafés in Tangiers, from board meetings in Fort Worth to mystical moments with Sufi sages, John Allen has impacted millions of people with his manifest integrity. His humorous and Whitmanesque memoir is a tribute to the ingenuity and dauntlessness of the human mind. Me and the Biospheres is a passionate call to reawaken to the beauty of our peerless home, Biosphere 1, the Earth.

 

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