A YouTuber who wants to teach the world to love science gave his followers an important lesson this week: Abandon your experiment if you’re living dangerously on the edge.
Kurtis Baute announced in August that he was constructing a 10-foot-by-10-foot biodome and that he would try to live inside the airtight structure for three days in the company of about 200 plants that he hoped would be effective enough to give him fresh oxygen. He didn’t last nearly that long.
Instead, he had to abandon the biodome after about 15 hours because the carbon dioxide levels rose to dangerous levels. Still, Baute, who has 5,300 subscribers on his YouTube channel, termed the experiment a success.
Extended video: @kurtisbaute emerging from inside his air-tight greenhouse after 14 hours of his #KurtisInAJar experiment. Interviews with his paramedic friend and sister in-law who were assisting in keeping him safe. pic.twitter.com/tSe5DwAWtE— Gord Kurbis (@CTVNewsGord) October 25, 2018
In his initial announcement video, which he tagged #KurtisInAJar, the self-styled “whimsical scientist” said he had been thinking about this project for more than a year and termed it the biggest project of his YouTube career.
“If all goes well, the plants are going to produce oxygen I can breathe,” he said. “I’m going to breathe out carbon dioxide that they’re going to take in to grow. Hopefully, we both survive.”
Baute said he wanted to make people understand how the environment works on a “deeper level” and if he could show people a small sample of how science works, he could get them excited about figuring out ways to save the planet.
Once he got inside the structure and began the countdown earlier this week, though, it became a battle with his mind.
“Knowing that the CO2 levels rise with each breath I take in here does not exactly make for a relaxing lullaby,” he wrote on Instagram. “Actually being able to watch the numbers climb is extra bad. I’m reminded of two words in friendly bold font: DONT PANIC.”
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Camping by the light of the full moon. In a hammock. In a jar. . Glad I managed to get a couple hours of sleep, but I'm feeling pretty wide awake now. Knowing that the CO2 levels rise with each breath I take in here does not exactly make for a relaxing lullaby. Actually being able to watch the numbers climb is extra bad. . I'm reminded of two words in friendly bold font: DONT PANIC.
Eventually, he had to abandon the project—in part, he was stymied by the weather.
As he wrote on his website, via the BBC, before beginning the experiment, “I could probably survive in the jar three days. But my goal is not to just ‘not die,’ my goal is to end this project without having turned blue, developed brain damage, gotten heat stroke, or just generally caused lasting harm to my body.”
If he remained inside the biodome any longer, he was risking all of that, and he figured living more days to continue bringing awareness to climate change was worth more than completing the experiment at all costs.