A MINI-EARTH on earth. That was what
Biosphere 2, the ambitious programme
of an enclosed ecosystem, encapsulated.
But with its ownership changing hands
last month, the programme is also
switching course. Bought by the Columbia University in New York, the 1.2 ha
Biosphere 2, encased by glass walls, will
no longer be manned continuously.
Instead, Columbia University officials
who will run all the scientific and educational activities of Biosphere 2, aim to
11 create an unprecedented laboratory
that will attract scientists from around
the world to study global climate
change, biodiversity and sustainable
agriculture". Biosphere 2 was an experiment which intended to combine both
ecology and technology to create self-sustaining colonies which could exist in
space. It contained a miniature ocean, a
rainforest, a grass savannah and a desert
among others. The programme ran into
allegations of mismanagement forcing
its owner, Ed Bass, a Texan oil billionaire, to sell it to Columbia University.
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