From Chapter 5, “Pioneering”:

In January 1993, just over halfway through their mission, a scientist asked the eight biospherians what they wished for. They had just finished a tense videoconference meeting about their scientific plans, and now, as they sat around the conference table, they had time to relax for a moment. Some still spoke of high hopes: “To end the two years knowing what happened, to the best of our ability; that our data sets are intact and we know what happened,” said Taber. Mark wished for “Big Macs and the lobster meals and the Japanese sushi and all, and the many, many alcoholic beverages that I continually dream about,” but also said he looked forward to “another gigantic surprise . . . even if it makes our lives harder,” arguing for the scientific value of unexpected events. (To that, Norberto Alvarez-Romo of Mission Control replied, “You don’t have permission from Mission Control—no surprises!” to a chorus of nervous laughter.) The other biospherians’ wishes were more humble: “That the sun comes out,” said Jane, thinking of the crops. “To make it for two years,” said Gaie. “I wish for eight happy healthy biospherians walking out of here in 1993 September,” said Sally. “To complete all the way up to the 26th of September as a total system,” echoed Laser, equally determined to get through it all. “I wish that nobody out there or in here takes their oxygen for granted,” said Linda. “My wish is well known,” said Roy. “I wish for a bottle of scotch. . .”

Years later, despite all the difficulties, John Allen would claim triumphantly that the biospherians’ Mission One was a success. They had proven the power of life, and that humans could channel that power, he announced in a journal article:

The results from Mission One mean that sustained long-term inhabitation of worlds in space is possible. Mission One also means that humans can learn to collaborate intelligently with this entity that they are a part of on planet Earth. Biosphere 2 proves that life in its totality is a force tending to actively maintain and extend itself.

Reflecting on her time in Biosphere 2, years later Gaie still believed that it had given her a kind of hope:

It proved that you give life a little bit of help, and it will thrive and do well, and that’s tremendous information for the crisis we live in today, that we can change what’s happening, it’s not too late, it probably never will be too late. It’s just a matter of making a little bit of adjustments here and there and life will go forward.

Some of the Biosphere’s ecodesigners drew conclusions from the project more warily, however. “Soil’s alive. Don’t forget that. If the soil isn’t happy, nobody’s happy,” was one of the number one lessons Tony Burgess learned at Biosphere 2, he told an interviewer. Savanna designer Peter Warshall, with a similar humility, concluded, “We are simple—a species that can hold no more than five or six variables in the mind at once. Dumping 3,000 species into a titanic terrarium is beyond our management capabilities.” Reviewing the strange tasks of atmospheric management that consumed the biospherians’ lives, he offered, “The lessons learned from Bios 2 have been drowned in the soap operas. Here’s a simple list: Ecodesign is crucial. Surprises abound. Be humble when trying to outguess Gaia.”