Biosphere Articles Part 6 
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 Biosphere Articles Part 6
Part 6
     She calls the group's philosophy "twisted" and "dangerous"
and says it "sanctioned every {*filter*} thing that Johnny [AIlen]
ever wanted to do to other people." Toomim says her original
fascination with Allen turned to horror one day when a group
member called " Phillip' ' was accused of defying Allen's orders.
The next day, "as we were getting ready to go on stage. . .
Johnny comes into the room and starts being verbally abusive and
he starts hitting Phillip. That I was a witness to. He was
slapping him on the back. His back was all red. I had to make
[Phillip] up after that; he had to go on stage completely
covered, head to toe, in clown white. There was this red glow
shining through."
     Toomim said she was forced to be "secretive" about her
personal life while working ln the cult theater group, that she
"got in trouble" for letting her boyfriend from the outside visit
her. Her experience with the group terminated when she refused to
work on the Biosphere project, as repeatedly urged by Marie
"Flash" Allen. Toomim feared that the project would put her
further into financial debt with the group, a tactic she claims
is used to keep members from straying.

Strange Fish

     Much of the current structure of the Biosphere management
team matches the cult's traditional operating methods. Project
CEO Margret Augustine-- who has at least one child by Allen--
"uses gestalt theater for role playing at the Biosphere site,
Allen recently told a reporter. An estimated 15 people now live
permanently at the project location, including all the cult core
members who go back to the days of Synergia Ranch: Allen, Marie
"Flash" Allen, Mark "Horseshit" Nelson, Kathelin "Honey" Hoffman,
William "Whole Rat" Dempster, Robert Hahn and-- for much of the
time-- Ed Bass. As in the days of the orlginal ranch commune,
where children were ignored and left to roam the grounds without
schooling, no children live permanently on site.
     But perhaps the best tip-off that the Biosphere has no
serious scientific intentions or potential and is, rather, an
elaborate acting-out of the cult's extraterrestrial fantasies, is
the make-up of the first eight person human "crew" of
Biospherians that will soon seal itself off for two years inside
the glass bubble. Here we have eight people who have been hand-
picked from a "pool" of "candidates" to take part in what is
promoted as one of the most scientifically signlficant
undertakings of the century. Yet at least six of the
Biospherians-- if not all eight-- appear to have been chosen
strictly on the basis of their loyalty to the cult. If you want
to apply the standards of traditional science, you see that only
three of the eight candidates have advanced degrees, that only
one of those has the credentials that match the supposed
significance of the experiment-- and that some of the candidates
have failed to achieve even four-year degrees. If you wish to
apply more liberal, nontraditional, "New Age" standards, you find
first the striking nondiversity of the eight-- all are of white
European heritage and then that the life-enriching practical
experience (that could substitute for formal education) has been
had almost exclusively in cult-run "research" ventures, all with
little credible scientific value.
     Moreover, even in John Allen's coffee table self-apology
tited Biosphere Z-- recently published by Viking/Penguin-- the
biographies of these supposed history-making Biospherians
includes absolutely no information about their personal lives and
     Dr. Roy Walford: This 66-year-old UCLA researcher is
without question the only scientist of any renown among the eight
Biospberians and will serve as the medical officer. Not to say he
might not be a little cheesy around the edges. He has authored
one book suggesting that the human life span could be stretched
to 120 years through diet and lifestyle. Not known to be a core
member of the cult, Walford has closely worked with John Allen
for more than a decade.
     Abigail Alling, 31, cocaptain of the crew, has a masters
degree from Yale in environmental science but also has a clear
record of being a top member of Allen's cult. In 1986 she served
as "project director" for the R/V Heraclitus "research vessel"--
an 82-foot, concrete-hulled replica of a Chinese junk, built and
operated by AIlen's cult. A number of authentic botanists and
other scientists have come into contact with Heraclitus missions
over the years and have laughed them off as folly. One researcher
who broke with Allen's group after one of the Heraclitus voyages
to the Amazon called the atmosphere in and around the ship
"hippie fascism."
     Linda Leigh, 39 years old, holds a bachelors degree in
botany from Evergreen State College in Washington. Armed with
only that credential she has been titled director of Terrestrial
Ecosystems and will serve on the crew as "scientific director."
She has worked with the Biosphere group for six years and may or
may not be a member of the cult's inner core.
     Bernd Zabel, 41, has been named captain of the crew after
serving as general manager for construction of the Biosphere. A
long-time cult member, Zabel resided on the Synergia Ranch.
Providing backup for his supposed "expertise in agricultural
systems" is SBV's listing of his work with the Institute of
Ecotechnics-- the hollow credential factory owned by the cult.
     Sally Silverstone, 35 years old, has been named the crew's
information systems director after having been anointed SBV's
controller and manager of the architectural division of the
Biosphere project. Though she has been running the tropical
agricultural greenhouse, Silverstone's formal educatlon consists
of a four-year degree in social work from a British college. Her
official bio says she acquired her knowledge of the rainforest by
working with-- that's right-- the Instltute of Ecotechnics.
Silverstone is a veteran cult member having been seen at a
number of the group's worldwide, "projects."
     Jayne Poynter, 29, has the heady title of crew manager of
Intensive Agricultural Systems and her bio says she has "managed
both the SBV prototype intensive agricultural svstems during
research stages of the Biosphere 2 and coordinated the
implementation of the intensive agriculture biome." A pretty neat
trick for someone whose education consisted of having "graduated
from St. Michael's School for Girls in Sussex" and having taken
"a business course in London." No fears for the">food supplies of
the Biospherians, however because at age 18, Poynter signed on to
the cult's Australian ranching project where she was tutored in
"consultancies" managed by the Institute of Ecotechnics.
     Taber Kyle MacCallum, 26, will be the crew's analytical
systems manager after having "directed the development of a
nonpolluting analytical laboratory" for Biosphere 2 "in
conjunction" with paid consultants from Hewlett-Packard and other
hi-tech firms. Taber will also work as assistant medical officer,
after having completed some medical courses at two universities.
MacCallum was so wrapped up with desining analytical systems, he
had no time to finish college but is credited with having won
"certification" 'as an advanced open water diving instructor in
1984, a much-needed quality in the Arizona desert. MacCallum ls
credited with having graduated ln 1988 from the International
Space Universlty's ten week summer course on space orientation.
His bio also states that he "began trainlng for the Biosphere 2
team with a two-year marine ecological expedition aboard the RJV
Heraclitus, the research vessel of the Institute for
      Mark Van Thillo, 29, now completing his work as manager of
construction quality and technical systems for the Biosphere,
will become the human crew's technical systems manager in charge
of tens of millions of dollars in hi-tech gadgets buried in the
ba{*filter*}t of the bubble. No problem, as Van Thillo attended the
Belgian-based Don Bosco Technical Institute-- a vocational
school-- from which he graduated with a "diploma" in "mechanics
and tool and die making." That background allowed him to serve as
a fellow sailor with MacCallum on the R/V Heraclitus. Earlier he
was working on projects in the "high semi-arid grasslands south
of Santa Fe" designed by the Institute of Ecotechnics.

Vectors, Schmectors

     Biosphere 2 takes pains to describe itself as a private,
for-profit research and development enterprise. And as such,
management argues, lt has no need to apply the same credentialing
standards that say a university-based project would. And
certainly, as a private company it can choose who it pleases to
be the Biosphere candidates. But it's also true that if there
were any of the committment to either science or to the New Age
that SBV claims it has, it would have found either a less
scientifically laughable group or at least a more diverse group
of people-- or better, both-- to send inside the Biosphere.
     But old traditions die hard. And for some 25 years Allen's
cult has operated in the same manner: attempting to put on a
respectable face for public consumption but, behind closed doors,
trusting absoutely no one but their own {*filter*} followers.
Likewise, though Allen himself strains to be self-- effaclng,
claiming variously that back on Synergia Ranch he was only
"general manager," [Burke says cult members used to tell
outsiders that he was only the gardener], or that he has only
"written a few plays" for the theater group, or that today he is
another equal among equals on a diverse management team, he just
can't help himself from reverting to his old ways. Allen still
appears in public, and for those who care to notice, the same
babble that flowed incessantly from his tortured psyche and
filled the evenings at the Synergia Ranch commune now fuels the
driving force behind the Biosphere project.
     Speaking at a recent gathering in Arizona, Allen reaffirmed
his belief in theater as a didactic resource. "As Shakespeare put
it, each man in time plays many parts. He wrote in the
Renaissance; there's no reason that there can't be a perpetual
renaissance or rebirth. So that's the idea, not to be caught in
one mask." And then, Just as Cathleen Burke recorded so many
times in her notebooks 20 years ago, Allen launched off into one
more of his rambling, febrile projections of the New Civilization
he claims to be building. The Biosphere project, he said, is
"going to show us how to make biospheres that will take life
throughout the solar system, and indeed, throughout the galaxy.
And in all probability, throughout the universe, at certain
favorable locations. . . "
     "Referring to our own planet," Allen said, "we are talking
about the biggest most complex entity that we know in the
universe, in terms of system vectors. The most vectors that are
going on and affecting and being controlled by a total system.
That's a biosphere. A vector means a force going ln a given
direction. In a biosphere, we have forces going in all sorts of
directions; furthermore those forces have consequently been spun
off and come back . . . and either reinforce positive feedback or
negative feedback."
     As a science, Allen said, "it's very, very new."


     (From a letter sent on September 24, 1991, by Rocky L.
Stewart, the senior software engineer for the Biosphere II
project, to Norberto Alvarez-Romo, the project's director of
{*filter*}netic systems. On September 26, 1991, eight "crew members"
entered Biosphere II, a three-acre self-contained bubble in
Arizona; the crew members plan to live completely sealed off from
"Biosphere I" (Earth) for two years in an attempt to create a
self-sufficient, sustainable model of Earth's environment. The
letter was obtained by Marc Cooper, a reporter for The Village
Voice, who revealed last November that, after early tests
indicated a buildup of dangerously high levels of carbon dioxide
in Biosphere II, the project's management secretly installed a
sc{*filter*} to mechanically remove carbon dioxide from the
biosphere, thus violating the stated intent of the project. After
the use of the sc{*filter*} come to light, Biosphere II's management
released a statement saying that the sc{*filter*} is part of a
"complex" recycling process that is "pre{*filter*}ly biological.")

     This letter is to clarify why I feel I must resign.From the
data we've collected on CO2 production during past closures it is
apparent that there will be a problem controlling the residual
level of CO2 inside the biosphere. Even you have stated there is
an excessive amount of carbon in the biosphere. Also, I
understand that the CO2 sc{*filter*} purchased to deal with this
problem can only extract up to one hundred parts per million per
day for ninety days. The data collected to date indicates that
the sc{*filter*} would have to run continuously during the summer
months just to keep up with CO2 production. During the winter
months, we should expect higher CO2 levels due to reduced light.
Therefore, it seems that we are going into this "two-year
closure" with information that indicates we may only be able to
close the biosphere for a much shorter period of time.

     I feel compelled to resign because I no longer trust
management for the following reasons:

     1.     The CO2 problem, in my opinion, is being swept under
the CO2 sc{*filter*} rather than solved.
     2.     I do not have faith in a management that releases
false statements on progress to the media.
     3.     False information is being distributed by management
concerning the capabilities and configuration of the biosphere.

     I have never had a m{*filter*}objection to the use of a carbon
dioxide sc{*filter*}. I had a m{*filter*}objection to leading people to
believe that the biosphere is ready for a two-year closure when,
based on the CO2 data I have seen and the fact that we have not
performed a single system test, it is not. It is my opinion that
the biosphere will remain closed for only a small fraction of the
advertised two-year closure due to this CO2 problem.
     I realized all along that science was not the only factor in
this project. But it has become apparent to me that the science
component of the biosphere project is small compared with other
components, and that the biosphere has been turned into a theme
park, requiring only a little science to keep it running.
Harper's, Vol. CCLXXXIV, No. 1701, Feb. 1992, pp. 29-30.

        There have bene two articles in the _Voice_ since the above. The
third article describes how a CO2 sc{*filter*} was installed secretly, to offset
the massive buildup of gases inside the structure. The fourth article
describes the problems the complex is having-- the inhabitants have lost
about 15% of their body weight as they strugle to make the super-terrarium
produce food, and the insect and bird life is dying off rather quickly. I'll
probably scan the things in eventually.

New Sig File Under Construction-- Light and Compact for your Usenet Pleasure.
"The recent problem with the satellite retrieval managed to prove one thing;
DeVries graduates really _do_ work for NASA."

Wed, 09 Nov 1994 10:51:07 GMT
 [ 1 post ] 

 Relevant Pages 

1. Biosphere Articles Part 1

2. Biosphere Articles Part 3

3. Biosphere Articles Part 2

4. Biosphere Articles Part 5

5. Biosphere Articles Part 4

6. Biosphere Articles Part 7

7. Biosphere Articles Part 8

8. The Biosphere II articles

9. The Biosphere Articles

10. Looking for Biosphere II articles

11. Biosphere Part II

12. Biosphere Part III

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