Kurtis Baute is passionate about the environment; so passionate, in fact, that on Wednesday, he voluntarily sealed himself in a 1,000 cubic foot, air-tight, homemade greenhouse in the name of science.
“I’m sealing myself in a glass jar,” he offered, as an analogy.
“It’s kind of a microcosm, it’s the tiniest of examples of what we’re doing to the earth,” he said.
The Vancouver-based Youtuber built the 10 foot by 10 foot by 10 foot “biodome” on his brother’s property in Courtenay, covered the wooden frame with greenhouse plastic, sealed it with tape and silicone and filled it with approximately 200 plants.
With enough food and water stocked for three days, Baute plans to camp out inside and see how long he can last, relying only on the plants for oxygen.
“It’s going to get really hot in there, I’m a little worried,” he said.
The greenhouse experiment was inspired by a scientific experiment done in the 1700s where two mice were put in separate glass jars, one with plants, one without.
The mouse in the jar without plants died from lack of oxygen, while the other did not. Baute plans to recreate part of this experiment on a larger scale and document it on his Youtube channel to show how air operates in our environment and the effects of climate change.
“People don’t want to read horrible, sad, depressing stories, that’s not fun,” he said. “But maybe they’ll enjoy watching a video about a guy who’s sort of torturing himself. Maybe that’d be entertaining in a way that engages enough people.”
While the experiment progresses, he will be creating YouTube videos about different elements of climate change, such as the increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere.
But the experiment is not without its dangers. The greenhouse holds around 30,000 litres of air, but low levels of oxygen and high levels of CO2 could have serious impacts on his health. Baute will be closely monitoring CO2 levels in the greenhouse as well as his own vital signs.
“I have hard lines on a bunch of different variables that’ll tell me it’s time to get out of there,” he said, adding that his family and a paramedic will be on hand to check on him.
“If all goes well, we should stay very clear of any risk before it becomes bad for my health. That’s the goal, but it’s hard to say what’ll really happen in there.”
Baute’s experiment began at midnight on Wednesday, Oct. 24 so that he could have a good night’s sleep in the biodome before having to worry about rising carbon dioxide levels. Though he has prepared for three days in the greenhouse, he acknowledges that might be a little bit optimistic.
While there are many risks with this kind of experiment, he hopes it will raise some much-needed awareness.
“I think [the environment is] incredible and I also see what we’re doing to it. It has caused me more than one sleepless night,” he said. “I think issues like climate change will only change if enough people get on board with it and make fundamental changes to their lifestyles.”