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


The inside story behind Biosphere 2 and the visionary personalities and unique challenges that made it possible.


By Abigail Alling, Mark Nelson and Sally Silverstone

Foreword to 2nd Edition by Dr. Sylvia Earle

Foreword to 1st edition by Dr. Joseph P. Allen


Available April 2, 2020. If you wish, you can purchase the book now, and you will be sent an email notification when the book arrives and is being shipped.


Planet in a bottle. Eden revisited. Laboratory under glass. The largest self-sustaining closed ecological system ever made. Biosphere 2 is many things to many people. From its half-acre farm to its coral reef to its emerald rainforest—this unique research facility has proven itself a marvel of human engineering and a testament to the human imagination.

For two years, four men and four women lived and worked inside the structure, recycling their air, water, food, and wastes, and setting a world record for living in an isolated environment. But what has this giant glass-and-steel greenhouse been to those most intimately involved with it? What has it meant to the first crew who studied and cared for it? What was it really like to be sealed inside a giant laboratory for twenty-four months? In Life Under Glass, crew members, Abigail Alling and Mark Nelson with co-captain Sally Silverstone present the full account of those two remarkable years. From the struggles of growing their own food, to learning how to help sustain their life-giving atmosphere, the general reader is offered a rare glimpse into how a group of dedicated researchers managed to surprise the world and fulfill their dream.

Other crews will come and go, but no one else will face the risks, the uncertainties, and the challenges that this new breed of explorers did on Biosphere 2’s maiden voyage. Here is the fascinating story of how it all appeared—living under glass.

Biosphere 2 was selected as one of the top ten science experiments in 1993 by Time Magazine and Good Morning America.

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

  1. greggw

    This project probably pionoeered the transformation of ecology into an experimental science, while the crew has survived a unique social experiment: the longest voluntary tenture in a confined environement on record.
    —USA Today

  2. Deborah Snyder, Publisher

    Life Under Glass is a special present not only for me but for all the people who want to know, from real protagonists, the great history of Biosphere 2. The stories recounted here are extraordinary, beautiful, and dramatic at the same time. A must to read.” – Antonino Saggio, Professor of Architecture Sapienza, University of Rome

  3. Deborah Snyder, Publisher

    Life Under Glass is a massively important and inspirational book about a great experiment that will be regarded as a cornerstone in the human quest to understand the Biosphere and ecology itself. Anyone who wants to understand what innovation actually is must read this book and whisper a hushed vote of thanks that people like this exist!” – Sir Tim Smit, Founder, Director, The Eden Project, Cornwall

  4. Deborah Snyder, Publisher

    Life Under Glass details an extraordinary scientific experiment, one in which a handful of idealistic citizen scientists, at considerable personal risk, volunteered to enter a closed system, Biosphere 2. The audacity of the effort brings to mind that famous quote of Teddy Roosevelt in which he hails not the critics, but those in the arena who strive valiantly, who spend themselves in a worthy cause, and who, if they fail, do so while daring greatly, their faces marred by dust and sweat and blood.” – Professor Wade Davis, BC Leadership Chair in Cultures and Ecosystems at Risk, University of British Columbia, Vancouver

  5. Deborah Snyder, Publisher

    “I am convinced that the epoch-making experiment, Biosphere 2, will remain an indispensable topic of science education in high schools, colleges, and universities. The pioneering work of the biospherians may one day gain an additional importance for managing the life support systems of “Earth Observatories.”
    – Professor Bernd Lötsch, General Director (Emeritus) Natural History Museum, Vienna, Austria

  6. Deborah Snyder, Publisher

    Life Under Glass is a great illustration of human creativity in extreme environments…the biospherian thinking process was an example of the emergence of a noosphere 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.” – Roger Malina, ArtScience Research, Director ArtSciLab UTDallas, Executive Editor Leonardo Publications, MIT Press

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