In the early 1990s, the world witnessed a unique scientific experiment called Biosphere-2. Eight people dressed in uniformed futuristic jumpsuits entered a hermetic airlock to spend two years inside a huge dome filled with a variety of ecosystems. However, their paradisiacal life quickly turned into a struggle for survival.
At first, everything was perfect. The colonists enthusiastically farmed, monitored the systems, and enjoyed the beauty of nature around them. They harvested crops, fished, and spent time on their little beach. In the evenings they would gather on the balcony, which they called the Visionary Café, and discuss philosophical questions or play music. Everything seemed perfect until the strange and unpleasant news came.
The chief technician of the Biosphere announced that the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere was gradually decreasing and the percentage of carbon dioxide was increasing. If this trend continued, life inside the dome would become impossible in a year. Thus began the struggle for the air they breathed.
Scientists took several measures to cope with the problem. First, they decided to build up the green biomass as intensively as possible. The colonists devoted all their free time to planting and caring for the plants. Second, they ran the backup carbon dioxide absorber at full capacity to reduce its concentration in the air. Third, they used the ocean as a helper. The ocean absorbed some CO2, converting it into acetic acid. However, this made the ocean more acidic, and they had to use additives to reduce it.
Despite their best efforts, the air under the dome became increasingly thin. The colonists were forced to take extreme measures to survive. They limited physical activity to reduce their oxygen intake. They also reduced the number of meals and increased the time between meals to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released. They even used special breathing masks to get more oxygen.
However, despite their best efforts, the colonists could not completely solve the air problem. They were forced to leave Biosphere 2 much earlier than planned. The experiment was a failure, but it attracted the attention of many scientists and became the subject of discussions about the possibility of creating self-sustaining ecosystems.