As our mosaic group was driving out to Biosphere 2, the first thing I discovered about this mysterious place is that it sits isolated far off any main highway that you would find in Arizona. The second thing I learned is that there was not some other “Biosphere 1” located in another town somewhere, but that biosphere 1 is everything that surrounds us; it is the world in which we are living. While there are many different social and political controversies that have surrounded biosphere 2 since it’s inception in the early 1990’s, the main focuses of our journey out to Oracle were the environmental initiatives and best practices that this organization is operating by. Also, where else in the world can you experience 5 different biomes in one place?
We were lucky enough to experience an all access tour with Nathan Allen, Assistant Staff Scientist and Sustainability Coordinator at B2. As he brought us around to rain catchment barrels and the solar panel installations that surrounded B2, he boomed with enthusiasm and shared an incredible amount of knowledge with us having to do with the energy created by the panels and the future endeavors that biosphere 2 has planned to expand their incorporations of sustainable projects.
His enthusiasm continued unabatedly as we finally entered the air-sealed massive structure that housed so many different experiments, both past and present. We viewed the soil experiment, which was designed to better understand how water percolates through the surface of the soil and enters the groundwater. Nathan explained that this study was particularly important in that it helps to address one of the largest problems in Arizona, as well as many other major cities in the world: water scarcity. Water scarcity is an enormous issue now and will continue to be a concern as climate change progresses, storms become more erratic, and droughts increase in occurrence.
In every biome were several experiments to better understand the issues presented in the environment around us. What I kept asking myself was where the solutions for these issues were. Where were the companies committed to operating sustainably and finding solutions to these environmental problems? On the solar panel descriptions, we saw some major companies contributing funds to the solar panel project, but were they themselves operating their businesses in a sustainable way? B2 is first and foremost a research facility, however, it is important that the research obtained there be put to use to make the environment a better place.
Overall, it was an incredible opportunity to visit B2 and our group thoroughly enjoyed the tour!