Sunday, October 28, 2012

What went wrong: Janique Goff and the failure at Biosphere 2

Janique Goff | Image credit:

The experimental habitat Biosphere 2 aimed to contain is a self-sustaining ecosystem within its confines—a fully functioning microcosm of Earth itself. For environmentalists, such as Janique Goff, the experiment inside this large glass house was a failure.

Located in the deserts of Arizona, Biosphere 2 intended to house eight people within its confines for two years to examine how closed ecosystems functioned. Inspired by the green movements of the 1990s, it was, in its heyday, the largest artificial closed ecosystem in the world.

As the name suggests, it aimed to house the many biomes found on Earth, displaying a rainforest, ocean, savannah, desert, rain shadow forest, mangrove wetland, human habitats, and farms.

Janique Goff | Image credit:

The missions inside the Biosphere, however, never actually made it through the planned two years without opening due to a number of complications that contributed to a drop in the level of oxygen inside the closed environment.

Environmentalists, like Janique Goff, are divided in their opinion of the experiment. Some praise the scale of the project despite its shortcomings, from which many scientists actually published papers of their observations of the reactions biomes have in a carbon dioxide rich environment. Others criticize the venture, citing its basis on “new age drivel” and unscientific philosophical ideals.

Currently, Biosphere 2 remains open under the management of the University of Arizona. Information on current research undertaken at the site and more can be accessed here.

Biosphere2 inside
Janique Goff | Image credit:

Updates on Janique Goff can be accessed on this Facebook page.