There are a lot of powerful ways to raise awareness about climate change, but sealing yourself in a tiny plastic-wrapped biodome gets extra points for creativity. That’s the DIY approach taken by self-described “whimsical scientist” Kurtis Baute who encased himself in an “ecosystem-in-a-jar” at midnight Wednesday on his brother and sister-in-law's property in Comox, BC.
Baute is live-tweeting the experience under the hashtag #KurtisInAJar, and is prepared to stay in the habitat for three days. He is closely monitoring his vitals and the biodome’s carbon dioxide levels, and will exit if the environment becomes even remotely hazardous to his health.
“Would be happy to make it a full 24 hours, but we'll see,” Baute told me in an email on Wednesday morning. “Carbon dioxide has been on the rise all night so I'm looking forward to daylight when my plants can do their thing. It is truly shocking how much our bodies alone can impact the air around us.”
Baute unveiled his plans to inhabit the cubic shelter measuring 10 feet in length, height, and width back in August on his YouTube channel. The idea is to simulate, in miniature, the human-driven processes that underpin climate change on a global scale. Baute’s respiration is pumping carbon dioxide into the small habitat, which is unventilated, while the many plants in the biodome are meant to provide him with all the fresh oxygen he needs to breathe.
The space “is literally triple-sealed,” Baute said. “One continuous sheet of greenhouse plastic, wrapped and folded, then sealed with tape from the outside and inside, then silicone on anything that looked at all creased and imperfect. I made sure no air would get in, as counter-intuitive as that sounds.”
The #KurtisInAJar experiment is just the latest of Baute’s science engagement projects. Over the summer, he biked across Saskatchewan to measure the curvature of Earth, and in a particularly popular video from January, he recreated the timeline of the universe using dominoes.
Update: After 15 hours, Baute evacuated the shelter due to high CO2 levels.
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