“… impeccably researched… Riveting, surprising, and in the end devastatingly human, this is a saga for the ages.”  —Booklist,  starred review


• GOLD MEDAL in ForeWord’s BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARDS for the best of independent publishing



BIOSPHERE 2 rises from southern Arizona’s high desert like an immense greenhouse spaceship. Originally packed with over 3000 carefully selected plant, animal, and insect species, this sealed terrarium holds one of the world’s most biodiverse—and artificial—wildernesses.

In 1991, a team of four men and four women—scientists and experimental theater performers who had sailed the seas and put on plays all over the world—locked themselves inside Biosphere 2. They vowed not to come out for two years. In a new riff on an ancient dream, their survival would depend entirely on whether they could learn to cooperate, with each other and with their created wilderness paradise. From their venture’s roots in a 1970s dirt-poor intentional community in the desert, to the power politics of climate change science, Dreaming the Biosphere provides the first full independent account of one of the most elaborate and extravagant sustainability experiments ever undertaken.

The biospherians would endure everything from crazy ants, to gnawing hunger, to ego battles that at one point would climax in armed U.S. Marshals storming the research campus. Yet for all its strangeness, perhaps strangest of all was how normal Biosphere 2 actually was. Traversing human history, Rebecca Reider unfolds this ecotopian adventure (and misadventure) as a parable. Dreaming the Biosphere explores the intersections of ecology, community, inspiration, and madness, to unravel the story of Biosphere 2—and through it, the story of our own biosphere, and the human aspiration for a more harmonious world.

“Reider guides the reader to the conclusion that the problems we faced are essentially those that confront globalizing humanity. Dreaming the Biosphere offers timely lessons. This book makes my irrational devotion to that crazy project worth everything it cost.”

– Dr. Tony Burgess, Biosphere 2 ecosystem designer and professor

Dreaming the Biosphere: The Theater of All Possibilities
by Rebecca Reider
University of New Mexico Press, 2009