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Biosphere 2

March 2019

Arizona is noted for superlatives: the Grand Canyon, giant Saguaros, months of sunny weather, spectacular sunsets, spring training, and for me the salsa at Manuel’s Mexican restaurant in Green Valley. But nestled in the foothills of the Santa Catalina mounts, off Hwy. 77 about 30 miles north of Tucson, or if you are coming from the north just a few miles south of the old mining town of Oracle, is a lesser taunted marvel. Pima and Pinal County K-12 kids know about it. Since1991 over 500,000 of them have visited and learned there. So have over 3,000,000 scientists and tourists from around the world. If you are not among them, it is time you made the trip. It is worth every dollar and mile. Bring drinking water and comfortable shoes. You are going to do some serious walking, most of it indoors, some out, up, down, and all around. You’ll weave through 5.3 acres above ground, and 2 below, in all traversing through 6 biomes (a biome is a community of plants, animals and insects typically found together). You’ll spent time in a mini rain forest, a mangrove marsh, a savanna, thorn and fog desert, and view a working indoor million gallon sea, where cutting edge interventions such as “super” corals (hybrid corals able to survive in conditions that have presently killed off more than 50 of the world’s coral reefs) are being studied.

Though it may sound like it, this place is not a zoo or aquarium. Rather it is the world’s LARGEST indoor “controlled environment” laboratory and active research facility. Its mission is to increase our understanding of the earth’s complex systems and how we humans interact with them. The facility is now under the mantel of the University of Arizona, but draws scientists from all over the world, addressing critical issues and questions facing all of us: water, drought, food, energy, acidification and warming of our oceans, CO2 levels, climate change, even space travel and mars/moon colonization. Mainly though, the data ferreted out here in this hidden away high desert research facility BIOSPHERE 2, is aimed at providing data to help humans (there will soon be 10 billion of us) survive here on Biosphere 1, Mother earth.

There is a ton of fascinating data on this “must see” facility on the Internet, just Google BIOSPHERE 2. But better yet, take a day trip or over-nighter to see the place yourself. Have I visited the site myself? Sure have. I like it so much I hang out there 2 or 3 times a week. Really (I’m a tour guide there). Lodging and eateries are within easy driving distance in the nearby towns of Catalina, Oro valley, and Oracle.

Till next month, “CHOW.”

Sun City Grand Resident,

Tony Delatorre

 

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