THE SURVIVAL SKILLS THAT JANE POYNTER LEARNED DURING HER TWO
YEARS INSIDE BIOSPHERE 2 PROVIDE VALUABLE LESSONS FOR SPEAKERS.
It was among Time Magazine’s top 10 scientific achieve- ments of 1993. And though it was controversial, Biosphere 2 was a game-changer for many scientists because it helped answer the question: Could humans really survive inside an artificial world? The implications ranged from understanding the
basic tenets of sustainability to humans’ ability to flourish
outside Earth—also known as Biosphere 1.
But to the four men and four women who lived in Biosphere
2 for two years (and 20 minutes, crew member Jane Poynter
points out), the time locked inside that glass cage was life-changing in ways that extended beyond science.
Since her “release”
in 1993, she’s become a
popular speaker, sharing
the details of her life in
the Biosphere, as well
as her insights about
the environment, sustainability and space
“My life today is
[possible] because of
Biosphere 2,” says
Poynter, who grew up
in England and now
lives in Tucson, Ariz.
Pho To ProvidEd By Cdo rAnChing & dEvEloPMEn T Co.
Seven years later, Biosphere 2 continues to serve as a research lab.
“It launched the direction of my life. I’m still working in space
and the environment. Plus, I got a husband [fellow Biospherian
Taber MacCallum] out of it.”
During the experiment in the Arizona desert, the terrarium’s
ocean, wetlands, grasslands, desert and tropical rainforest pro-
vided oxygen and food, and the crew of eight did the rest. They
farmed, they butchered, they purified—and sometimes they
Survival Skill No. 1:
If being locked in a glass
bubble with seven other
people teaches you anything,
it’s psychology. Poynter turns
to psychology to explain the
differences between being
resilient and being resistant.
The key, she explains, is
understanding the difference
between a short-duration
challenge and a long-dura-tion one.
“In a short-duration challenge, it holds true that a super-tough, type A, can-take-anything-thrown-at-them person does
well,” she says. “And that was the classic Right Stuff training