Insights from Biosphere 2
An Interview with Mark Nelson

August 24, 2018

Interview by Joanna Harcourt-Smith

In this week episode Mark Nelson speaks with Joanna Harcourt-Smith and Jacob Aman about: earning the name “biospherian”; Vladimir Vernadsky and the planet-shaping power of life; Biosphere 2, doing whole systems science; “humans are the most unstable element in the ecosystem”; ecotechnics, bringing nature and technoloy into a mutually supportive relationship; longing for a reverential ecology; the dedication of the team overcame the group dynamics in a closed space; breaking the taboos of the reductionist, dispassionate science; the central, optimistic premise of the project; why Biosphere 2 was a threat to the industrial world; regenerating Nature and the human spirit; the visceral recognition of our belonging to the Earth.

Dr. Mark Nelson, Chairman of the Institute of Ecotechnics (UK/US) has worked for decades in closed ecological system research, ecological engineering and restoration, desert agriculture, and wastewater recycling. He was Director of Space and Environmental Applications for Biosphere 2, the world’s first laboratory for global ecology and a member of the eight person ‘Biospherian’ crew for the first two year closure experiment, 1991-1993. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College, the University of Arizona, and the University of Florida where he earned a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering Sciences. His new book, Pushing Our Limits: Insights from Biosphere 2 (2018, Univ. Arizona Press) describes these experiences. He is also the author of The Wastewater Gardener: Preserving our Planet One Flush at a Time (2014, Synergetic Press), and Life Under Glass: the Inside Story of Biosphere 2 (with Abigail Alling and Sally Silverstone), Biosphere Press, 1993. In September, he will be giving talks about “Pushing Our Limits: Insights from Biosphere 2” at the Linnean Society of Londonthe Eden Project in Cornwall, (UK), the October Gallery (London), and at the Santa Fe Botanical Garden (November 10th).

“I Can’t Sit Still”, original music by Evarusnik

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