Spaceship Earth (2020) - full transcript

A look at the group of people who built the Biosphere 2, a giant replica of the earth's ecosystem, in 1991.

♪ ♪

‐ Eight scientists are about
to be sealed

in an eight‐story
airtight terrarium.

‐ Shelley Taylor Morgan
is standing by at the site

at Oracle, Arizona.
Hi, Shelley.

‐ Morning.

What you're seeing here
is the doorway

that the eight Biospherians
are going to walk into

and be sealed into
for two years.

‐ Two years.

‐ The futuristic‐looking steel
and glass structure

is touted
as an environmental laboratory

and prototype
for colonies in space.

‐ They'll spend two years
in their prefab paradise

trying to support themselves

so that the rest of us
can learn

what it would be like
if we had to move

into a portable world
on another planet.

‐ Its designers say
it's science.

Its detractors say
it's a tourist attraction

run by questionable characters.

♪ ♪

‐ It's starting to happen,
as you can see.

There they are...

‐ There they go.
‐ Saying goodbye.

Doesn't this feel like
they're going to the Moon?

‐ Well, I mean, yeah,
I'm expecting

a blast‐off or something.

No, it is. I'm getting chills
as we sit here and watch this,

because it is really‐‐
‐ It really is.

‐ You know, we may look back
upon this in a number of years

and say
that was where it all began.

♪ ♪

‐ The experimenter enters
the experiment

in the grand tradition.

‐ This is an incredible moment.
The future is here.

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

‐ It started in San Francisco.

♪ ♪

I was 17.

I was on my way
to a rehearsal,

locked the door
of the apartment,

and there was an older man
locking the door

of his apartment
just next door.

♪ ♪

I'd never seen this man.

He said, "What are you doing?"

and I pulled out this book,
and I said,

"Well, actually, I want to do
what's in this book."

He said, "What's that?"

so I described

this slim novella
called "Mount Analogue"

by a French writer.

His name is Rene Daumal.

"Mount Analogue"
is about a group of people

who decided to land
on an island

that didn't exist on any map,
and I loved this book,

and I wanted to do
what those people did.

He said, "Forget the book.
That's what I'm going to do."

I said, "Well, as long
as there's theater and dance."

He said, "Okay."

And this was John Allen.

That night, he said he was
calling all of his friends

in New Mexico
to come to San Francisco,

so a number of us moved in
together on my 18th birthday.

‐ I had left New England
because I didn't want

to get married in New England

and be
the typical New England wife,

have typical New England kids,
and live that lifestyle.

Wonderful people,
but I didn't‐‐that wasn't me.

I was waiting to figure out
what the heck I was gonna do,

and I was desperate,
I was panicking.

John Allen called me up
and said,

"Get your butt here quick.

This is where
it's happening planetarily."

‐ There was a coworker that
I had at Lawrence Laboratory

who said, "Well, go check out
John Allen in San Francisco."

1967 in San Francisco,
there was all this, you know,

people doing things
together in groups,

and that was interesting
to me, so I went.

♪ ♪

‐ People were doing all sorts
of things at that time.

‐ ♪ Call out ♪

‐ There were a lot of people

starting collectives,

and we wanted to last,

so we didn't take drugs.
That would kind of blow it.

‐ ♪ Sooner or later ♪

♪ Because
the revolution's here ♪

‐ If one wants to make
a contribution to history,

you notice those moments
of opening,

and that's when you act.

♪ ♪

‐ ♪ And you know
that it's right ♪

‐ We sat down
in the living room.

What is it
that we're going to do?

Well, we could do theater,
we could do art,

we could do business, we could
do science, we could do‐‐

and then somebody said,
"Let's do all of it."


♪ ♪

‐ We set up the Theater
of All Possibilities.

That was our first project

♪ ♪

‐ The theater engages
the entire organism,

movement, thought, emotion.

It gives you insights
into yourself,

building a foundation
from which we could go on

and do other projects.

♪ ♪

‐ I wanted to document
what we were doing.

It was history.
It was important.

So I taught myself
16mm filmmaking.

I did a lot of handheld,

well, I was forced to have

a certain kind of a style
as a filmmaker,

because of lack of funds,
and lack of knowledge also.

♪ ♪

I loved to get
close‐ups and faces.

You know, it was like
you're catching

the essence of a person.

♪ ♪

‐ I'd met very charismatic
people before,

I'd met geniuses before,

but there's no one
like John Allen.

It was a feeling
of rightness that, yes,

this is what I want to do.
This is a person

I want to go on this voyage
into the unknown with.

I love him.
I love him.

I still love him.

I wouldn't say it was a‐‐
yes, it was a relationship.

Yeah, it was a very particular
kind of relationship

which was based on friendship.

‐ He's 12 years older
than I am,

and we did have
a relationship,

extremely platonic
in kind of a strange way.

But, you know,
I was very fond of him,

and I guess he was fond of me,

and then suddenly,
he asked me to marry him.

Oh, okay.

That sounds good.
Yeah, so anyway, I did.

When we got married,
it wasn't

for the normal sort
of married life type of thing.

It was‐‐we were married
to make a project.

♪ ♪

‐ Being born in Oklahoma,
in those days,

Oklahoma was still
a frontier state.

Frontiers are very uncertain.
That's by definition, right?

A frontier is where two
or more cultures

are interfacing
with each other,

and so it is dramatic, always.
What is gonna happen?

♪ ♪

I worked
at a meatpacking plant

and did union organizing,
worked as a metallurgist,

was in the US Army Corps
of Engineers,

got an MBA at Harvard,

and I wandered around,

thinking about what I wanted
to do.

I knew that would have
to be something unusual.

I was fundamentally interested
in transformation

of where we're ordinarily at,

of what the human potential
could be.

♪ ♪

‐ I think we'd had it
with San Francisco.

The scene there became
corrupted by commercialism.

♪ ♪

We just decided we wanted
to have our own place.

♪ ♪

We found a beautiful piece
of land

that wouldn't cost much,

and where we could
build a ranch.

♪ ♪

We called ourself Synergists.

♪ ♪

‐ We needed to become
more directly connected

with growing food
and not just being consumers.

♪ ♪

We were workaholics,

running the ranch
and the theater.

♪ ♪

‐ Johnny was
a very good leader,

and he instilled that.

If you feel that you've been
given permission to go do

any kind of a task,

no matter‐‐almost no matter
what it is, you'll do it.

♪ ♪

‐ Our group was inspired

by a lot
of different thinkers.

♪ ♪

The "Whole Earth Catalog,"

that beautiful cover looking
at the planet as a whole.

That was really thrilling.

The works
of William S. Burroughs.

He was seeing
that there was a countdown

to ecological disaster,

themes that we were
interested in.

♪ ♪

We'd read "Spaceship Earth"
by Buckminster Fuller.

‐ Bucky Fuller had pioneered
the idea of a geodesic dome.

I was handed the task
to build one.

♪ ♪

This is a way of learning
by doing,

to be pushed to the limits
of your skills.

♪ ♪

The dome symbolized the unity

that reflected
the values of the ranch.

‐ The struts of a ball have
tremendous strength together,

but individually,

they don't have that kind
of cohesive strength.

♪ ♪

That's how we worked.

The whole is greater
than the sum of its parts.

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

‐ It was October 1969
that I arrived at the ranch.

They happened, in fact,

to be in the middle
of a theater rehearsal.

The door burst through,
and 20 to 25 people

with really high energy
entered the room.

It was kind of like
a good omen.

It was like I'm stepping
into something totally new.

I was born in Brooklyn,

so I'm quite a New York kid.

I worked as a taxi driver.

I was a proofreader
at Time Life Books.

I was a court reporter
for a while.

Oh, and a social worker.

I really was looking
for something different.

♪ ♪

I was such an urbanite,

people would say,
"Pick that 2"x4" up,"

and I would think to myself,
"Two by four.

What could that refer to?"

♪ ♪

Johnny said, "Everybody here

"needs to be in charge
of something.

"We try to run this
as a work democracy.

What do you want
to be in charge of?"

and I thought,
"I haven't a clue."

Johnny came up with the idea

of an enterprise
of having an orchard.

I said, "I'm on for that."

I really fell in love
with soil, and trees,

and really keeping
that connection

with the whole natural world.

♪ ♪

The ranch was the first step

in learning
about sustainability.

♪ ♪

We saw an opportunity.

We could make sustainable,

viable projects
around the world.

♪ ♪

‐ Here we were,
not that long

into making the ranch
a sustainable place,

and the gardens were going,
and it was all happening.

Well, I think maybe
Johnny thought

it was
all too successful now,

and that we had to move
to the next realm.

♪ ♪

‐ The magic
of the entire enterprise

was to always increase
the challenge.

♪ ♪

‐ Johnny actually said,

"I think we should build
a ship."

‐ We wanted to go someplace

where we certainly
had never been before.

It was a new era
for our projects.

It would go planetary.

‐ We went to my family home
in Berkeley,

where we set up
our living space

so that we could build a ship
on the shore in Oakland.

♪ ♪

‐ We started out
with smaller projects.

The answers are easier,

and eventually, you have
to do very complex things.

♪ ♪

‐ We thought,
"If we can build a ship,

an oceangoing ship,
we could do anything."

♪ ♪

‐ Our ship is called
the "Heraclitus."

The construction of the ship
was pretty much a performance.

♪ ♪

‐ Margaret Augustine

is the primary architect
of our projects.

Margaret, who was 19 or 20,
kind of rose to the occasion

when we were building
the "Heraclitus."

Margaret says,

"I'm going to run
the construction site."

♪ ♪

Freddy Dempster learned
celestial navigation.

♪ ♪

‐ In a relatively benign

like Synergia Ranch,

you can make mistakes,

and you learn
that you made a mistake,

but in this case,

your life depends
on these things working.

♪ ♪

‐ The day of the launch
was very dramatic,

because we had this high tide.

And people had been working
24‐hour shifts.

♪ ♪

We had booked a tow boat
to pull us into the water.

We built it, and in theory,
it would float,

but we didn't know
what was gonna happen.

♪ ♪

‐ And then there's a jolt.

It was just slipping
out there.

And we were moving.

♪ ♪

Suddenly, the bow went up.

Like that.

♪ ♪

‐ We sailed out
from San Francisco Bay,

sailed out
under the Golden Gate Bridge,

and when we got out
in the ocean,

the waves were huge,
literally 25 to 30 feet high.

♪ ♪

‐ Nothing was tied down
the way it should've been.

The radar broke
and fell in the ocean.

‐ We certainly were learning
quickly, yes.

‐ And for some reason,
I wasn't afraid.

And I don't think
anybody was afraid.

♪ ♪

It was one
of those transitional,

transformative moments, indeed.
Well, now we were free.

♪ ♪

‐ There's
a strong nomadic nature

to our projects.

‐ Well, we toured
around the world.

♪ ♪

‐ You know,
I'm a broke Oklahoma boy.

How am I gonna support
all this stuff?

‐ How did you support it?
‐ Just enterprising.

♪ ♪

‐ We weren't a commune.
We were a corporation.

♪ ♪

We started businesses
around the world

in order to make money.

We had to survive.
We had to pay for everything.

‐ We were quite capitalistic.

‐ You know, we were never,

in any of our projects,
into profit maximization,

but without sustainable,
viable economics,

these projects can't last.

♪ ♪

It's unusual to find
business partners

who were willing
to think long‐term.

‐ Ed Bass was an integral part
of our businesses

around the planet.

♪ ♪

‐ He really liked this sense
of exploration,

sense of adventure.

Ed Bass is a billionaire

from a prominent family
in Fort Worth, Texas.

The Basses‐‐
their money was in oil.

♪ ♪

We formed a joint venture
with Ed.

‐ And we had a particular kind
of a deal with him.

He would put forward

the capital to buy
certain properties,

and then we would go there

and work
to enhance their value,

and make something‐‐
something amazing.

So we built a hotel
in Kathmandu.

♪ ♪

We opened an art gallery
in London.

♪ ♪

‐ I spent ten years of my life
taking care of our land

in the Australian outback.

♪ ♪

‐ We started touring theater.

♪ ♪

‐ We played
on every continent,

including Antarctica.

♪ ♪

‐ The idea to start projects
in different biomes

was to understand

the whole planet

♪ ♪

‐ Small groups are
the engines of change.

♪ ♪

Johnny provided the ideas
that coalesced our whole group

into doing collective action.

♪ ♪

Under his leadership,

we could achieve things
in common action

that we could not otherwise

♪ ♪

‐ I lost my dad when I was 16.

I often institute
father figures...

♪ ♪

And I think I had a projection
on John.

I may still have it.

I won't say I'm over it.

He was very charismatic,
very dynamic,

exploding with energy.

He was a fallible human being.

John can be tempestuous,
big time,

but John
is definitely a genius.

♪ ♪

‐ To explore the history

of the planet Earth
and its future,

and to examine man's relation
to the planet Earth

and his future,
the Institute of Eco‐Technics

outstanding scientists,

artists of the avant‐garde,

explorers, and managers
of our present time

to a four‐day conference
at their facility

in the south of France.

This film is the record
of those shared investigations

and experiences,

fears and hopes,
ignorance and knowledge

of the mystery and patterns
of planet Earth.

♪ ♪

‐ We were doing conferences,

and we held them in
different parts of the world.

They started
with specific biomes,

a conference on deserts,
on oceans, on jungles.

♪ ♪

Pretty soon,
we ran out of biomes,

so we did the planet Earth.

‐ Dr. Alexander King sounds
a note of warning.

We are living in
an unusually warm period,

but small overall
temperature changes

lead to ice age glaciation.

Population increase

in enormous cities,

of natural environment,

and increasing disparity

between rich
and poor countries

is leading to a catastrophe,

yet most of the destruction
is caused by human ignorance.

‐ Changes were happening
on an enormous scale.

We were actually in danger

of destroying the planet
as we know it.

‐ And we realized that we had
to do something.

‐ Thank you very much.

Any idea that can be conceived
in our time

can be executed in our time.

It's a hell of a mantra.

‐ Phil Hawes,
our resident architect,

came up
with an adobe spaceship.

The idea of making
an enclosed mini‐world

rose from that moment.

‐ And in this biospheric bank
are thousands of species

of life and eight people.

They better be adventurers,
they better be artists,

and they better be scientists.

‐ We loved this idea

that when you start
to think of colonies in space,

suddenly you are thinking
of sustainable living on Earth.

♪ ♪

‐ I think the whole project‐‐
I mean, I really liked

that it was science fiction
without the fiction.

♪ ♪

This idea
is like "Silent Running."

That was an incredible film.

To see this floating world,

and, you know, the guy taking
care of the wilderness area,

and the little rabbits

‐ How are you today? Huh?
Feeling good?

‐ Here is this capsule of life
from Earth

that's being nurtured
and kept alive

and the guy who's in love
with the system,

which I totally identified.

You know, and of course,
the very poignant thing,

that this is the last refuge
of Earth life.

‐ What about the forests?

You don't think anyone should
care about these forests?

What's gonna happen
if these forests

and all this incredible beauty
is lost for all time?

♪ ♪

‐ Nobody was building
a long‐term life system

to go into space.
No one was doing that.

We thought, "Here's a niche.
Let's go for it."

♪ ♪

When you even visualize
a colony,

off the planet,

suddenly you're rethinking
what's possible.

♪ ♪

‐ Some of us are born

with far better
naturalist sensitivities

interpersonal sensitivities.

So, yeah,

I usually get along
with plants

more than I do most people.

♪ ♪

John said, "We're going
into the space race."

I said, "What?"
He said,

"Yeah, we're gonna build
this thing called the Biosphere

"that's a prelude
to extraterrestrial biospheres,

and so, we want you
to design the desert."

♪ ♪

I was working

at the University of Arizona
Desert Laboratory,

and well, you know, compared
to the normal academic career,

compare that
to launch humanity

into an extraterrestrial
evolutionary trajectory?

It was visionary.

♪ ♪

‐ If we're gonna go to Mars
and the Moon,

we'd better know
how to make a biosphere.

♪ ♪

‐ A nice, simple definition
that I like of a biosphere

is a virtually closed system
with plants and animals

and atmospheres all inside.

If we're gonna build

the first human‐designed
biospheric system,

we're gonna make it beautiful.

♪ ♪

We're gonna put in
a mini‐rain forest,

a desert, a savanna, an ocean
with a living coral reef.

It would be populated by

of carefully‐selected plants
and animal species,

including eight people.

♪ ♪

We called the project
Biosphere 2,

because we wanted people
to say,

"Well, where is Biosphere 1?"

Biosphere 1 is the Earth.

No one really knew
what we'd need

if we're ever gonna go into
space on a permanent basis.

♪ ♪

‐ We don't see how big
the process is.

‐ John Allen had suggested,
"Well, the whole point of this

"is not to do rigorous science
from the get‐go.

"The point of this is to learn
how to make a biosphere

"that can support
human occupants

"in an
extraterrestrial setting.

"It won't work the first time.

"It probably won't work
for the first several times,

but each time, we're likely
to learn more, faster."

‐ There were huge numbers
of scientific consultants.

The University of Arizona,

the Smithsonian
Marine Systems Lab,

and the New York
Botanic Garden.

‐ And are we gonna put
any engineering devices...

‐ Biosphere 2
was gonna build

on the work
of all of our projects.

‐ Agriculture, design,

engineering, technology,
and ecology.

All the things
that we had done together.

♪ ♪

‐ It was a massive
construction project.

♪ ♪

‐ And these were the people
that could do it.

♪ ♪

‐ When we were building
the "Heraclitus,"

Margaret Augustine
ran the construction site.

Now, she was the CEO,
and co‐architect

of Biosphere 2.

When you're doing something

that no one has ever done
before, you learn by doing.

‐ Without a project
of this undertaking,

you wouldn't really be able
to feasibly start a colony,

say, on the Moon or Mars.

♪ ♪

‐ Marie Harding was
the chief financial officer.

‐ We had budgets.

The final cost
was $200 million.

That's‐‐for that,
that is like peanuts.

It was quite corporate.
I even wore nail polish.

‐ And also, of course,
there was Ed Bass.

♪ ♪

‐ Edward Bass,
the second‐oldest

of the four Bass brothers,
by some estimates,

the fourth wealthiest family
in the United States.

John Allen's ideas
and Edward Bass's money

have spawned a number
of worldwide ventures.

♪ ♪

‐ Creating Biosphere 2
as a business

made sense for several reasons.

For one, we thought
it could be very profitable.

‐ Ed would invest
a huge amount of money,

figuring there would be
no payback in the short term,

but when we go to space,

Biosphere 2 would yield

technological spinoffs

that then he could license
and people would pay him for.

‐ Ed was also
passionate about ecology.

‐ All you've got to do
is watch his face light up

when he talks about it.

‐ From the ecological point
of view,

man is very much
a part of the problem.

I was able
to put these together

in my own personal interest

and really become involved
in ecological matters.

‐ We'd been thinking
about the human relationship

with the environment
for decades.

Biosphere 2 is totally

an awesome new kind
of approach

to studying

and coming up with solutions
to Earth problems.

♪ ♪

‐ We have, in the last year,
put out a paper

that said we had a program
for Biospherian candidates.

‐ We had
maybe 15 or so people,

Biospherians in training,

and the selection was
gonna be made from that group.

‐ There wasn't
a type of person.

It wasn't eight clones
that showed up.

This is the kind of human being
who would do this.

It was‐‐
that wasn't predictable.

‐ I'm Jane Pointer.
I'm a Biospherian candidate.

‐ Well, my nickname's Laser.

I like to be in the middle
of the action.

I like to get things done.

‐ Well, I know
that the eight people who go in

will come out different people,

and come out as a group
of people

probably incomparable
to any other group in history.

‐ Many people say
"Well," you know, "Why?

Why are you getting locked up
in the Biosphere?"

I don't call it‐‐

I don't think of it as being
locked up in the Biosphere.

In fact, I think of it
as locking everybody else out.

‐ We looked
for who are the free thinkers,

so I automatically eliminated

all the people
that follow people.

‐ Two!

‐ Okay, go down and switch
to the next partner.

Do the‐‐appear
and disappear emotionally,

the way you were doing
physically before.

‐ John Allen was a brilliant,
charismatic leader,

because he simply met
the emotional needs.

He was a mind musician.

He really knew
what people needed,

and tried to motivate them
by supplying it,

or withholding it sometimes.

I thought part
of John Allen's genius

was helping people to realize
it's all theater.

♪ ♪

‐ I don't know that I ever had
the feeling

that we couldn't pull it off.

I knew we could pull it off.

Maybe that was naive,
but maybe not.

‐ To prove this, we thought
it was necessary

to build a model.

‐ We built the test module.

Let's have all the Biospherian
candidates go in there.

‐ What's going on today
is testing of the systems

that we expect to use
in Biosphere 2.

This will be the longest
closure with a person

in a totally enclosed
environment where all the food,

the water, the air, the waste
is recycled within that system.

‐ This is my daily exercise,
as well as harvesting.

‐ Botanist Linda Leigh
was sealed

inside a test module
for a three‐week stay.

‐ You open the door, you close
the airlock behind you,

and suddenly, you understand
that you are in relationship,

I mean, intimate
metabolic relationship,

with everything inside there.

‐ Everybody is anxiously
awaiting for the moment

when you will step
through that door.

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

‐ Preparations
for interplanetary travel

have begun near Tucson.

‐ As Tina Naughton tells us,

spaceships aren't involved yet,
only determination.

‐ These chosen eight
are about to step

into an airtight city
called the Biosphere 2.

The crew, chosen
from scientific experts,

will live inside the enclosed
world for two years.

Only video and the telephone
will link them to the outside.

‐ They are the darlings
of the new age,

protectors of the planet,

pioneers blazing a trail
for outer space.

They are Biospherians.

‐ No one's
ever done this before.

No one's ever built,

or lived in, or managed
a total closed system.

‐ It's
an ethnically diverse group,

each chosen
for their science expertise.

‐ It's a true
research project,

with the eight humans

as much a subject
of the research

as researchers themselves.

‐ I got a phone call.
Margaret‐‐she said,

"What do you think about
the idea of joining the crew?"

And I don't think
there was any pause

between the end of her sentence
and me saying yes.

‐ Am I gonna go stir‐crazy
over two years?

Have I really brought in
enough sneakers,

and toothbrushes, and books,
and videos,

and tape cassettes to keep
my intellectual mind happy?

I suppose emotionally, that's
gonna be the challenge.

‐ I feel grateful to be given
the opportunity

to carry on the work

that we've been doing
over the last five years,

to be part of an experiment

that is both
scientifically challenging

and physically
remarkably beautiful.

‐ I was invited to come up
to the biosphere,

and I thought, "Well,

"this is a great,
bright group of people.

"They're really into
what they're doing.

"They're exciting.
They're excited.

"They're doing cool things.

They're wacky,
and I fit right in."

♪ ♪

I was always the girl
in the classroom

who took care of the fish.
I did projects

for all the science fairs
when I was little.

Mostly, people,
I felt at that time,

people didn't like me
very much.

I was living in Tucson
in the mid‐'80s,

and I was kind of in my "save
the world" type of headspace,

and a friend said,

"Linda, you can't do it
all by yourself."

And that was‐‐
it was really a moment,

one of those aha moments.

When I joined the group,
it was a magnetic center.

You know,
it just kind of pulled me in.

We all got sent out
to different places

around the world to collect
the plants and species.

♪ ♪

To build an ecosystem
from all of the pieces

is just a big, huge puzzle.

♪ ♪

‐ It was Biblical.

It was filling Noah's Ark,

♪ ♪

‐ Deciding what to include
has not been easy.

For example...

‐ When we made the decision
to put in something

like a hummingbird,

you know how many flowers
a day a hummingbird needs?

The best we could find
was 1,400 fuchsia flowers.

♪ ♪

‐ An important part of this
was making a beautiful world,

making a Garden of Eden.

♪ ♪

I loved being totally absorbed
in this.

♪ ♪

I didn't need anything more.

♪ ♪

‐ Ready? And action.

‐ Hello there.
I'm Rue McClanahan,

and I'm here in Oracle,
Arizona, at Biosphere 2,

where one of the most
adventurous and important‐‐

boy, this is rough terrain.

‐ That was nice,
very nice, Rue.

‐ It feels‐‐

‐ And, action.
‐ Hello.

I'm Rue McClanahan,

and I'm here
in Oracle, Arizona,

at Biosphere 2,
where one

of the most adventurous
and important experiments

in human existence has begun.

Et cetera, et cetera.

‐ Good, that was perfect, like,
that was perfect.

‐ People like both wonder

and sensation.

I mean, so there's an appetite
and an audience for both.

No, I was not a publicist.

We didn't even have
a press department.

We had no press release.

‐ They want to just do it down
at that spot...

‐ Regards
to a photo opportunity.

‐ And they've got enough time,
so let's just go and do it.

It never entered our head
that it was going to be

something grand
and spectacular,

it was going to blow
everyone's socks off.

It started to ignite
a lot of interest.

Margaret and John decided
that they should hire

a professional PR firm
from LA.

‐ The locals came in.
They reported faithfully,

and then my job was
to leapfrog up

to the national
and international,

the networks.

Here we had
this marvelous structure,

and we had to do it right.
We had to beam them up somehow.

‐ This live news event package
will include

worldwide press coverage.

Biosphere 2 is an idea

that has intrigued Hollywood
for years.

Celebrities will walk us
through the diverse biomes.

‐ I am a big fan of everything

that has to do
with the environment.

‐ They'll present profiles
of the bionauts,

who've journeyed
the world over,

gathering what will live
in their new environment.

Network presidents agree,
environmental programming

is a must for the '90s.

‐ Definitely went viral.
It was a global curiosity.

‐ Biosphere 2.
‐ Biosphere 2.

‐ Biosphere 2.
‐ Biosphere 2.

‐ Biosphere 2.
‐ Biosphere 2.

‐ Biosphera dos.
‐ Biosphere 2.

‐ What an exciting assignment.

‐ I'm telling you,
it was so incredible,

and I just came back
from an ocean, a desert,

a marsh,
a tropic zone, a savanna.

‐ Ladies and gentlemen,
here is the president and CEO

of Space Biosphere Ventures

and five
of the eight Biospherians.

Welcome them, please.

Okay, have you got the picture?

Is this something?
I'm telling you.

‐ People wanted
to be enchanted.

The notion
of eight human beings

being separated from life,
from the availability of food.

And I think it tapped
into something in people.

♪ ♪

‐ I had trepidation
that the media attention

was too much, too soon,

that we weren't
quite ready for that.

‐ No air, water,
or other materials

will pass
the airtight glass boundaries

that enclose them.

‐ But you get no new air
at all from the outside.

‐ That's right. What we put in
when we enter in March

is what we will have
in 100 years.

‐ You don't cheat,
and take any air

from the outside environment
into the Biosphere

for the entire
two‐year experiment.

‐ There won't be any cheating
for 100 years,

not just the two years,
for the 100 years.

‐ We were making it up
as we went.

This was a group
that was sort of avant‐garde.

‐ Today we're showing
my designs on two models.

It'll work well for television
against the foliage,

the rain forest,
the desert with the beige tone.

That's why I believe
in clear red.

♪ ♪

‐ Two of the Biospherians
are outside Biosphere 2

this morning
in Oracle, Arizona.

They are botanist Linda Leigh,
and the team's only physician,

Dr. Roy Walford.
Good morning to both of you,

and what in the heck
are you wearing?

‐ Good morning.
Well, these are our suits,

and uniforms that we wear

on state occasions
like this one.

‐ Oh, I see.
You look like something

out of "Star Trek" to me.

‐ Along with the debate
over whether this is science,

or what critics call
ecological entertainment,

there are some
darker questions.

The idea for the Biosphere
was not born

among a group of scientists.
It was born on a commune.

In fact, some of those
who lived there

say it had
the trappings of a cult.

The questions center
around John Allen,

the man considered
the driving force

behind Biosphere 2.

Three former residents
have told ABC News

that Allen preached a blend
of ecology and doom.

‐ There are accounts of how
the commune members took part

in strange costumed rituals.

A Biosphere 2 employee
told NBC News

the people
running the project

are an odd group
of individuals.

He insisted on having
his identity protected.

‐ They don't really strike me
as scientists,

more like a group of people
thrown together

and given a role to play.

‐ The appetite
for sensationalism

sells papers.

Describing complex projects
doesn't sell papers.

‐ Did you feel attacked?
‐ Well, I was attacked,

but I didn't feel that I was.

Here is your brainwashing
cult leader.

♪ ♪

‐ I'm sure John felt
a huge amount of discomfort

at having his accustomed role

as director
of the drama threatened.

‐ Right, grab that...

‐ Frankly, I don't know
any human organization

that does
an innovative startup

that doesn't have
cult‐like aspects,

in the corporate sector.

We are hardwired
to create cults

in the innovative phase
of an organization.

‐ Quick, the press is waiting!

a new world and future.

‐ From here to Mars!
‐ How exciting.

‐ Smooth sailing.
‐ Younger every day.

‐ Before we went in,
we wrote a play

called "The Wrong Stuff."

‐ You must notify me at least
24 hours in advance

of any water going either
into or out of the system.

‐ Our play was everything
that could go wrong

in the Biosphere went wrong,

thinking that, okay,
if we did it on stage,

then we don't have to do it
in the Biosphere.

Flush one through the system.

Flush one through the system.

‐ Lunch.

‐ French fries.

‐ ♪ We got the wrong stuff ♪

♪ We got the wrong stuff,
we got the ♪

♪ Got the wrong, wrong stuff ♪

♪ And we're wrong ♪
‐ ♪ We're wrong ♪

‐ ♪ We're wrong ♪
‐ ♪ We're wrong ♪

‐ We're wrong.
‐ Yeah, we're wrong!

♪ ♪

‐ How can you prepare yourself
for something

that you don't
even know what it is?

That's what an expedition is.

It's a journey
into the unknown.

‐ We can be a threat
to our biosphere,

play a destructive role,
or we can be stewards,

to the reciprocal maintenance

of natural ecological

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

‐ Push, push, push, push.

‐ Let me‐‐let me
close it, please.

Be careful with it.
Okay, please?

Yeah, I need to close it.

‐ Okay.


‐ Let her do it.
Let her do it.

Let her do it.

‐ She do it?

‐ Here.
Get back.

‐ It was such a relief when
the cameras were finally off.

♪ ♪

‐ I went into
the wilderness area,

which was the area
that I was managing.

♪ ♪

And I rained,
I turned the rain on.

♪ ♪

It was just to wash
all the air, thinking,

"Okay, let's just wash
all this other stuff

out of here and begin anew."

♪ ♪

‐ The reality that it was just
the eight of us

in this amazing new world

started to hit.

♪ ♪

You can think and think
and think and think about,

"Oh, I'm going away
for two years,"

but suddenly,
wow, we're here.

♪ ♪

You know, we were pioneers.

We were
the first Biospherians.

There was also this pride.

Hey, you've given us
a new world to, you know,

figure out how to live in,

and we're gonna grow up
with this thing.

We're gonna take care of it.

♪ ♪

‐ ♪ Home is where
I want to be ♪

♪ Pick me up
and turn me round ♪

‐ Sally Silverstone‐‐
she used to joke,

"I managed a mental hospital
in India.

"You know, that's nothing
compared to managing

eight Biospherians."

‐ I was a huge space nut
when I was a kid.

I loved the idea
of colonizing other planets.

I loved science fiction movies

where people were all living
under glass domes,

and, you know,
growing their own food.

I was really interested to see
if we were going to be able

to feed ourselves off
this tiny piece of land.

‐ Taber MacCallum,
the wunderkind of Biosphere 2.

‐ Taber is a genius, so he
brought that to the table,

but he also really knew a lot
about closed systems

from his experience in diving,

so he did a lot
of the work involved

with testing of the atmosphere
and soils.

♪ ♪

‐ Jane Pointer, our field
manager of the agriculture.

‐ Jane was wonderful
with the animal systems.

She took care of our chickens
and our goats,

our wonderful goats.

♪ ♪

‐ Taber and Jane,

and Gay, Laser‐‐
they were couples,

you know, before they came in.

Laser, he appears,
and he can fix anything.

‐ So he knew that thing
like the back of his hand.

‐ Gay Alling,
the marine biologist.

‐ She had put
this little ocean together

against all odds.

♪ ♪

‐ Roy Walford was
our medical officer.

He was a great scientist,

looking at the effect of diet
on the aging process.

‐ Each week, Dr. Roy Walford
swims two miles

and then runs another ten.

You probably wouldn't guess
he was 60 years old.

What's more,
Dr. Walford says at that age,

his life is only
about half over.

120 years, he says,

is his life expectancy,
maybe more.

‐ Roy was your archetypal
mad scientist‐

cum‐avant‐garde theater person
and explorer,

rolled up into one.

‐ ♪ Nothing ♪

♪ ♪

‐ We were all working together

because we all had
this common goal,

and it was something
we all really believed in.

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

‐ My absolute joy
inside Biosphere 2

was to get up really,
really early in the morning,

to just go out onto
the little balcony overlooked

our agricultural system.

Very early in the morning,

I'd make myself
a cup of mint tea

and just watch the sun
come up over the Biosphere.

It was absolutely phenomenal.

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

‐ We have to take care
of our Biosphere,

because it's gonna
take care of us.

♪ ♪

Everything was being recycled.
Everything was being replaced.

The nutrients were all being
put back into the same system.

♪ ♪

‐ Everyone was super aware
that Biosphere 2

was literally our lifeboat.

We had to manage carefully
the cycles

of carbon dioxide and oxygen,

because our greatest fear
was that CO2

was going to get so high

that we'd be driven
out of the biosphere.

♪ ♪

‐ I loved seeing

the consequences
of my actions right away.

If I picked a sweet potato
out of the soil,

there would be
a poof of carbon dioxide.

We could kind of get
a good feeling

for what our impact was
on the atmosphere.

‐ I have
a personal relationship

with every single plant
in the rain forest,

in the savanna, in the desert,
either having touched it

because I collected it,
or grew it, or accessioned it,

or photographed it,
planted it, propagated it.

I have connections with the
whole world of life in here.

♪ ♪

‐ Roy was filming continually.

♪ ♪

Roy's filming of life

inside Biosphere 2
is tremendously valuable data.

‐ We were learning
the most phenomenal amount

from that system.

‐ We actually had 64 separate
research projects going on.

There were over 1,000 sensors,

tons and tons of data.

We were monitoring critical
vectors like trace gases

and what was happening
with the atmosphere.

Everything accelerated.

The cycles were literally

thousands of times faster
in Biosphere 2.

‐ I'm making measurements
in the analytical lab

so that we can
better understand

the biogeochemical cycles

that are occurring
in Biosphere 2.

‐ With the conventional
scientific thinking,

you had hypotheses,

but we did
a lot of what we did

based on more of a different
way of doing science.

The idea was, here's all this
stuff, and what's gonna happen?

‐ The planet urgently needs
to study biospheres.

This is the first laboratory.

If we can transplant
a coral reef

and keep it healthy,

if we can run a farm
and not pollute the atmosphere

and the water,
recycle all the nutrients,

there are huge lessons
to be learned here.

‐ Okay, I'd like to welcome
everybody to Biosphere 2.

‐ Come on in.
‐ Thank you.

‐ All right, thank you.

‐ That is Mark Nelson.

Mark Nelson.

He's the
communication officer inside.

‐ People started showing up,
wanting to see everything,

and they wanted tours.

They'd heard
about this amazing place.

So we set up a visitor center.

We were hoping that that would
pay for a great deal of it,

which it didn't.

♪ ♪

‐ Where do we get the T‐shirts?

‐ What we're upset is that

there's no multiculturalism

‐ I would like to know‐‐
I would like to know

what a young black woman
from Brooklyn

would do in a biosphere, huh?

‐ Nothing can get in,
and nothing can get out.

I'm wondering‐‐I'm wondering
how long they can last in there

without getting sick
or something.

‐ Emily, you think
you're gonna live in a place

like that someday?

‐ This is an excellent model
for the future,

but it won't work.
People are too mean.

People are too abusive, yeah.
People abuse our world.

Our world's
going down the tubes.

‐ The Biosphere dazzles
the eye.

There is no dispute
about that.

But is it science?

‐ It is a great adventure.

And as adventure,
you know, fine.

That's not science.

‐ University of Texas
ecologist Bassett McGuire

and other scientists say

no matter what happens
inside the Biosphere,

nothing will be proved,
because the showy experiment

cannot be duplicated
to double‐check results,

and they say the project
combines too many unknowns.

‐ So, if this isn't science,
what is it?

‐ Well, I like to describe
Biosphere 2

as trendy
ecological entertainment.

♪ ♪

‐ We were having

such a wonderful time
in there,

and then this really
shocking thing happened.

Jane Pointer put her hand
into a grain threshing machine

without turning it off.

I actually remember unpacking
the threshing machine

and finding
the tip of her finger.

‐ There was debate
whether it would be

a breach of protocol
for her to leave.

‐ Go out and see
a hand surgeon...

‐ You mean I'd have to go out?

‐ We decided, okay,

if Jane eats nothing

♪ ♪

Goes to the hospital
in the ambulance with me,

I'm there the whole time

to make sure
nothing non‐kosher happens,

and then we bring her back
through the airlock.

‐ Bye again!

‐ Bye again.

‐ And we thought
it would be just a blip.

♪ ♪

‐ Biospherian Jane Pointer had
to emerge briefly

for surgery on a finger.

It was later learned
that she carried a duffel bag

full of supplies
back in with her.

‐ I put some of the stuff
in the bag.

You know, what could one say?
What are you doing?

Bringing stuff
in the Biosphere?

Bad news.

‐ And she came back
with two duffel bags.

Computer parts,
maybe an extra T‐shirt.

♪ ♪

It's a really
interesting thing

to see how the media

suddenly made Biosphere 2
into a game show

where the only question was,

will eight people stay in there
for two years,

and will everything
work perfectly?

‐ Directors
of the Biosphere 2 project

are defending themselves

against charges
of public deception.

‐ In the forefront now
is the question

of whether living

in this earthbound
enclosed environment

is possible without
a lot of help from the outside.

♪ ♪

‐ Once the negativity started,
John was very upset and hurt.

‐ Don't show that,
or I'm gonna do something.

‐ There was a lot of paranoia.

Margaret and John wanted
to control the situation.

I told Margaret,

"Disclose everything
and we'll be all right,"

but Margaret did not agree
with this point of view.

‐ Margaret,
I'd like to ask you something,

because from the tone of it,
I'm a little surprised.

You're making it sound
as though

this is
part of normal procedure.

‐ Margaret and John started
to become more secretive,

and this only reinforced

the idea that there
was something to hide.

♪ ♪

‐ I tell you what was
really stressful is,

when Jane got back in,

she was pretty much

We had to take up
her farming work.

And I do remember, you know,

Roy, pretty early on, saying
that he resented

that he didn't have
as much time to do research

because he was taking part
in farming chores.

♪ ♪

People are people,
and, you know,

and personality conflicts.

‐ Oh, for heaven's sake.
‐ Eek!

I dropped my shears.

‐ Don't get so excited
you fall, Jane.

It's not worth it
for a cockroach.

‐ What?

‐ Nobody knew what
it would be like

to live with seven people
for two years.

♪ ♪

‐ Nothing improved morale
like a really good meal.

♪ ♪

We had no artificial sugar
at all inside Biosphere 2,

so all of our birthday cakes
were banana‐flavored.

♪ ♪

I was really proud
of my birthday cakes,

because it was extremely
difficult to make a cake

with no butter, a few eggs,
hardly any oil, and no sugar.

♪ ♪

I knew that cake was
gonna disappear in seconds.

♪ ♪

Banana was the best candidate
to try and make wine.

I think the banana wine might
have been good eventually,

but it never lived that long.

The minute it had
alcoholic content,

that was it.

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

‐ I had this dream Biosphere 2
is starting to levitate.

It's starting to go
into orbit,

and so I'm madly running,

and I'm saying,
you know, the other seven,

we're all running to be
the first people

to see the Earth
from inside Biosphere 2.

♪ ♪

We were like an intrepid
group of astronauts.

♪ ♪

We're on the Moon, or Mars.

♪ ♪

‐ I was outside looking in,
working with mission control.

‐ Take a little tour around.

This is the computer room,
the Telex room.

‐ Mission control
was an entire team

recording the data
from Biosphere 2.

‐ My office was in
mission control,

on second floor, right down
the hall from the CEO.

When you're doing
the finance ends of things,

you're not a front person.

You're hidden
behind the scenes.

♪ ♪

And I made it a purpose often
to run around the Biosphere

most every day,

and look at it.
That was my exercise.

That was my daily run.

♪ ♪

I‐‐yeah, I felt
very, very connected

to everybody in there.

♪ ♪

‐ Every day,
John was in mission control

monitoring the project.

People had
different pressures on them

by the enormity of the project

and its profile in the media.
John Allen‐‐

he's always thinking
about the project itself,

thinking about
every possible thing

that he thought
could go wrong.

♪ ♪

‐ There was this mysterious
thing that happened,

a sudden spike increase in CO2.

‐ I mean, it was
a substantial rise

in carbon dioxide.

‐ I couldn't finish
a long sentence

without stopping to take
a breath or two.

‐ Walking up the steps,

I could only walk
a couple steps,

and then I'd have to stop
and take a breath.

‐ You know,
the onset of winter

was kind of scary times.

♪ ♪

As the days got shorter,
we were pretty scared, one,

that we couldn't control CO2.

Whereas food also got shorter,
crops took longer to mature.

♪ ♪

‐ We had to make
some pretty hard decisions,

because some crops
were just way more productive

than others,
even though we might have been

sick of eating
that particular thing.

Beetroot soup, beetroot salad,
and with a side of beetroot.

♪ ♪

Roy Walford,
who was our doctor‐‐

his theory was that
a low calorie diet

was the secret to longevity.

‐ Roy's whole thing was that
if you did it intelligently,

you could half starve to death
and live well to 120 years.

‐ And this was the perfect
research opportunity for him.

♪ ♪

‐ I made this calculation.
If this weight loss continues,

I will be ‐90 pounds
when I leave.

♪ ♪

‐ We saw that the oxygen was
really getting low,

to a point where
it could cause brain damage,

and I think one of the reasons
that our group of eight

were belligerent
towards each other was,

we were suffocating
and starving.

‐ Started out
by fucking saying,

I'm staying down here,
watching the creek.

♪ ♪

‐ The fighting is taking away
from us coalescing

as a group
to accomplish our objectives.

‐ John said,
"Oh, you need to start

"doing some advanced yoga

so you don't use
as much oxygen."

♪ ♪

I started to resent
John Allen.

♪ ♪

‐ We had occasional meetings
with John via video.

♪ ♪

There was a lot of personal
animosities towards John.

♪ ♪

‐ John Allen controls who gets
to communicate with whom.

‐ Mm‐hmm.
‐ And there are certain people

that I'm not supposed
to talk to who are scientists,

who I would really like
to talk to,

particularly about oxygen,
and these are people

that I'm not supposed
to talk with directly.

♪ ♪

‐ John‐‐he had created
this whole world.

♪ ♪

Oh, I think a part of him,

like any red‐blooded
white American male,

wanted that god‐like power.

♪ ♪

‐ This was.

‐ Can the actors go on?

It's dramatic.

Nobody knows,

until the very end,

what was gonna happen.

‐ In our horrible situation,

we've been deprived
of these basic needs.

‐ A horrible situation!

‐ It was an experiment
to humans in a way.

‐ Eight people
in the Biosphere.

Eight supple arms have I,
one for each and eight for all,

as one by one they die.

♪ ♪

‐ There were many times
I would get calls

from reporters,
saying "Is it true that..."

and I would say, "I don't
think so, but I'll check,

and get back to you,"
and lo and behold, it was true.

♪ ♪

‐ Eyewitness News has learned
there is a potential problem

at the Biosphere near Oracle.

Hours before that
huge experiment was sealed,

Biosphere officials secretly
installed a CO2 scrubber,

a mechanical device
to remove CO2

from the atmosphere
inside Biosphere.

‐ One of the top scientists

over that added technology.

He and some others charge

it flies in the face
of the original concept.

‐ A CO2 scrubber that was
not divulged to the media

and the rest of the world

would seem to me to say

that they've changed the rules.

‐ There was so much to‐do made
about inconsequential things,

like the famous
carbon scrubber.

That could only take out
a limited amount of CO2.

It wasn't gonna save us,
and we used that sparingly.

But we needed to be

much more transparent
with the outside world.

‐ Biosphere 2 is billed as
a search for scientific truth,

but the principals behind it

seem to spend an awful lot
of their time stonewalling.

‐ Biosphere officials
turned down

our request for interviews.

We didn't have any better luck
when we caught up

with one of those officials,
John Allen,

and an aide, at a scientific
conference in Alabama.

‐ Can you not
answer our questions?

‐ Mister, sir, you've gotten‐‐
you've gotten the answer.

‐ I was
tremendously frustrated

by the criticisms

and misunderstandings
of Biosphere 2.

Everybody focused

on the carbon dioxide

People did not understand
the point.

♪ ♪

We were people who recognized
that climate change

is a threat,

trying to develop a means
to counteract that threat.

♪ ♪

Biosphere 2 brings you
a visceral sense

of how delicate everything is.

♪ ♪

‐ We were all tense.
The project wasn't going right.

Things were falling apart.
People were losing control.

Of course, when people feel
like they're losing control,

bad things happen
in all kinds of directions.

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

‐ Thanks to the people
that have volunteered

tremendous time and effort
into this committee

to give advice on scientific
matters to Biosphere 2.

‐ The science
advisory committee

was established,
funded scientists

from major institutions

that could give the project

the scientific credibility
it was losing.

‐ Some other people started
to be involved, to come in,

and I think

there was some conflicts
going on in that arena.

‐ I can tell‐‐
wait a minute, this is‐‐

‐ Let me finish, please.

Please, let me finish.

‐ The scientific committee‐‐

they certainly would've
been happy to take over

and use Mr. Bass's money

to do a very different version
of Biosphere.

‐ One of the interesting things
we're going to do,

I want to do next,
is to look at the light.

‐ And clearly, John was upset.

He thought
he was losing control.

♪ ♪

‐ I'm still very concerned
about a matter of‐‐

‐ What did you just say?

‐ I'm saying we're gonna
vet it.

‐ John called me in,
then he said

the establishment
is trying to take over,

and that Ed Bass
had turned on him.

And I thought, wait a minute,
John has turned on Ed,

it sounded like.

That set off alarms, to me.

♪ ♪

I felt like I had
to say something

to the scientific
advisory committee.

♪ ♪

‐ We were totally upset
about Tony doing this

in such an underhanded way.

It was pretty much

We asked Tony to come
and face us all

on a video uplink,

and tell us what he had said
to the advisory committee.

‐ I think what, the problem
I saw was that John Allen

was having what looked
like paranoid delusions,

and it frightened me.

‐ For you to take
this kind of agenda

to that committee
really burns me,

because to my mind, they have
heard too much of this shit.

‐ I was really angry
with Tony.

It was crazy to me.

Biosphere 2 was a genius
of Johnny as a leader.

‐ I'm sensitive
to this situation,

because I am the product
of a dysfunctional family.

What I see going on here
is abusive parents,

and you eight almost trapped
in there like children.

‐ I'm just really
quite pissed off,

because there's no way
you can really respond

to personality
conflict power projections,

or even as you're going on,
you know,

abusive parent projections.

‐ Some of them were
really angry.

It was a good thing they were
inside and I was outside.

‐ Tony, if you talk
about what John Allen said,

then I would John Allen
to be part of the meeting.

‐ Then they took me
to see John Allen.

♪ ♪

That one, I remember.

John looks at me, and he says,

"In Dante's 'Inferno,'

"betrayal is the sin
that puts people

at the deepest level of hell."

♪ ♪

He got up,

walked around
the desk,

and hugged me.

And I hugged him.
And he said, "Never again."

And I looked him in the eye,
and I said, "Never again."

♪ ♪

‐ As I look at Biosphere 2,
and I'm ready to enter,

I take my last breaths
of this atmosphere,

knowing that I will
take breaths

from a different atmosphere
from all of you for two years.

‐ Not exactly.

Biospherians are once again
breathing our air.

It's being pumped inside.

About 10% of Biosphere's
total atmosphere.

♪ ♪

From the beginning,
Biosphere 2 was billed

as a totally contained,
virtually sealed experiment.

Pumping air inside?
What now?

♪ ♪

‐ If the management had handled
things differently,

the result
would've been different.

I actually don't blame
the press.

Margaret and John
promised too much.

‐ Theirs was to have been
a self‐sustaining

three‐acre world,
a model for colonizing space,

but crops failed.
Fresh air was pumped in.

‐ Critics say these violations

have invalidated
the experiment.

‐ It's self‐contained,
but it's not self‐sustaining,

and so the Biosphere, as it
was touted, is a total failure.

♪ ♪

‐ The day they pumped oxygen,
people went down

to kind of, like, get a sniff
of the pure oxygen coming in.

‐ In ten minutes,
in ten seconds, maybe,

I felt decades younger,
full of energy.

‐ Once this oxygen came in,

it was like this huge cloud
had lifted.

‐ The first thing
that happened,

spontaneously, is most of us

started running around
the lung and laughing.

And I realized,
I hadn't heard the sound

of running feet
in months and months.

‐ The negativity
just kind of dissipated.

‐ ♪ A woman on the radio
talks about revolution ♪

♪ When it's
already passed her by ♪

♪ Bob Dylan didn't have
this to sing about ♪

♪ You know it feels good
to be alive ♪

♪ I was alive,
and I waited, waited ♪

♪ I was alive
and I waited for this ♪

♪ Right here, right now ♪

♪ There is no other place
I want to be ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Right here, right now ♪

♪ Watching the world
wake up ♪

‐ I felt part of that living
entity that was Biosphere 2.

My agriculture system
was just becoming really good.

You know, it was maturing,
things were working well,

and I wanted to see
what was gonna happen next.

‐ Joe, as we said,
Sunday's the big day.

The eight men and eight women
who've been locked

inside this Biosphere
will be coming out.

‐ Today, workers were
scrubbing windows

and building a big stage,
all in preparation for Sunday.

That's when the Biospherians
exit this greenhouse,

exactly two years
after they went in.

♪ ♪

‐ What is it gonna feel like

after being two years
in this world,

to suddenly step out
into the other one?

‐ I didn't want to come out.

I did not want to come out.
I was volunteering to stay in.

‐ So, it was amazing
that from a dream

and an adobe spaceship,

that this gleaming marvel
had appeared in the desert.

I had the adventure of my life.

‐ So, I'd look at the trees
that we planted from seed,

and I just love it.
Uh, it‐‐my heart is there.

It's really there.

It probably
will always be there.

♪ ♪

‐ On the re‐entry day, we were
all inside the Biosphere,

waiting and waiting,

waiting for Jane Goodall
to finish her speech.

‐ When I began in 1960,

in the Gombe National Park
in Tanzania,

my mentor, Louis Leakey,
was told he was crazy.

He was told
the mission would fail.

And I think there were
many people,

when the Biosphere
was first planned,

who predicted that this mission
also would fail.

And I think one of the things
we're here for today

is to pay tribute to
the imagination and the vision

and the determination
of the team of people

who have made
this extraordinary project

a reality.

‐ Now, I love Jane Goodall,
so we could all tolerate

the fact that she made us
stay inside the Biosphere

probably an extra 20 minutes.

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

‐ To live in a small world

and be conscious
of its controls,

of its beauty,
its fragility, of its bounty,

and its limits,
changes who you are.

♪ ♪

‐ When you're out
in what seems to be

almost this infinite

so big, so large,
so tall,

it's kind of easy to think
that your actions don't count,

but they do count.

♪ ♪

‐ Today, researchers toured
the inside of the facility,

measuring every living plant
and examining every animal.

‐ Some things have grown,
some things have died,

and some things have prospered.

‐ Did it go as expected?

‐ No, and that was
why we did it.

We didn't know what to expect.

‐ I was back in the saddle,
being the consultant

for the next mission.
I was given trust again,

so they were true
to their word.

I said never again.

They continued to pay me
to collect data

that we thought was going
to be the foundation

of this new discipline
of biospherics.

So I was completely involved,
all the way until that day

when the marshals showed up
with Steve Bannon.

♪ ♪

‐ The management team
of Biosphere 2

has been locked out
of its offices and jobs.

‐ Texas billionaire Ed Bass,
who bankrolled the Biosphere,

has obtained a court order

ousting six managing officers
of the project.

Margaret Augustine,

the company's
chief executive officer,

and vice president John Allen.

‐ After some...
intense meetings...

♪ ♪

It was decided that the
relationship should...end

as it‐‐as it had been.
It was very difficult.

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

‐ Ed was under pressure
to stop the bad press

and to make Biosphere 2 more
conventional and profitable.

He brought in bankers
and Wall Street types

who really were focused
on short‐term profit and loss.

‐ John Polk Allen
sent a letter to Ed Bass,

the project's
financial backer,

because he's afraid
the focus of the project

is changing
from scientific research

to making money.

♪ ♪

‐ Steve Bannon came out
of Goldman Sachs,

and Ed made Bannon CEO.

♪ ♪

‐ Most of
the incredibly important data

from Biosphere 2

was destroyed
or locked up somewhere.

It is a scientific crime.

♪ ♪

‐ Why?

Why were they doing this?

What was this all about?

I was very dubious

whether or not
what was happening was legal.

I continued to work
under Steve Bannon.

I figured that it was
very important

to capture what was going on.

♪ ♪

I put the tape recorder
in my underwear

because I was concerned that
somebody would try to find it.

♪ ♪

‐ The power of this place
is allowing those scientists

who are really involved
in the study of global change‐‐

this actually allows them
to study and monitor

the impact of enhanced CO2
and other greenhouse gases

on humans,
plants, and in animals.

‐ The focus was really one
of space travel.

We refocused it
to the study of the Earth.

♪ ♪

‐ If Bannon has denied
climate change,

it is not because
he is not smart enough

to see that
there is climate change.

He's doing it
for another reason.

♪ ♪

It's particularly excruciating

because I know
how smart he is.

♪ ♪

‐ The takeover of Biosphere 2

is what's happening
in the world now.

Wall Street banker types,

the people just interested
in short‐term profit and loss,

push out the innovators
and destroy the world.

♪ ♪

‐ Not to be able to go back

to something
of that magnitude,

that's the culmination
of your life's work,

was excruciating.

♪ ♪

I don't want to go there.

I don't want to talk about it.


Excuse me.

♪ ♪

‐ I'm still moving on
from that.

I'm still moving on.

♪ ♪

We're always looking
for that place, the‐‐

you know, that was special.

Nobody else could see
what it could be.

♪ ♪

We had more in mind to do.

♪ ♪

‐ Those moments
of all possibilities

last a very short period
of time.

That's why you act.

♪ ♪

‐ Biosphere 2,
is it a cautionary tale?

We don't need
a cautionary tale anymore,

because all of the rampant,

you know, destruction
and death

is already happening.

I think it's important for me

to work on the scale
that I work on now,

working with people
in my community

to see what we can do.

♪ ♪

Sometimes beautiful,
beautiful things happen

when people
bring their minds together

towards a common goal.

You can't do it all
by yourself.

♪ ♪

‐ I live at the ranch
with quite a few of the people

that were there
at the beginning.

♪ ♪

‐ And then cutting down...

‐ We're still managing
the property

in the Australian outback,
and the art gallery in London,

and the rain forest
in Puerto Rico,

and we're rebuilding
the "Heraclitus."

♪ ♪

We're a very
high‐functioning family

that works through issues
and keeps going

for 50 years.

‐ That was because of you.

‐ That was because of you?
‐ Because I‐I‐‐

‐ These Americans

with their 200%
American accents.

‐ If you can sustain
a group like this,

it can get you
through a lot of challenges.

‐ Yes.

‐ You keep going.

You go till you go,
till you can't go.

♪ ♪

♪ ♪