On Wednesday afternoon, a self-described whimsical scientist from Canada emerged from a sealed 3 meter (10 foot) by 3 meter cube constructed of plastic sheeting and plywood and filled with 200 leafy plants. Despite only lasting 15 hours in the structure before dangerously high CO2 levels forced him to exit, Kurtis Baute considers his experiment a success. His mission was to raise awareness about the dire threat of greenhouse gas emissions by documenting his experience on social media, and judging by the explosion of media coverage, he did just that.
In a series of Tweets and YouTube videos leading up to the event, Baute explained that he intended to spend up to three days in his
DIY “biodome” to illustrate – on a tangible, individual-level scale – how the human-driven processes of climate change affect all life on Earth. He hoped that by showing how his own life depended on sustaining an equilibrium between his respiration and the plants’ photosynthesis, people would be reminded that the Earth is also a self-contained system whose balance is currently in danger.
Baute, a science communicator who creates fun, educational videos on his YouTube channel, The Scope of Science, also shared many behind-the-scenes clips as he constructed the biodome in the backyard of his brother and sister-in-law’s British Columbia home.
After more than two months of research and preparation, Baute entered his biodome right after midnight on October 24. As he noted on his website last week, his original goal for staying in the sealed environment was amended after calculations suggested the gaseous balance could tip quickly if the conditions became less than ideal.
"I could probably survive in the [dome] three days," he wrote. "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."