What would you do to teach humanity a lesson? Kurtis Baute, Canadian scientist and passionate YouTuber, took his life in his hands just to prove a point. And guess what? It might have worked.
Who is Kurtis Baute?
Baute isn’t just an internet fad or crazy climate change ranter, he has a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science in addition to millions of views on his YouTube channel. He is most well-known for his unique and compelling experiments and science talks, all infused with a liberal dash of compassion and easy-to-understand language. They’re interesting, funny, and informative, and the popularity of the channel has earned Baute the distinction of being the next Bill Nye. But his most recent project was about more than teaching people about the history of the universe or how to tell time by watching the moon. Baute locked himself in a jar.
What was his experiment?
In August 2018, Baute announced on Twitter that he would soon be starting a brand-new project: Kurtis in a jar. People have been locking themselves in cages, hanging out in trees, and chaining themselves to fences for years just to make people pay attention, but Baute’s idea was more than a publicity stunt. A couple of years ago, Baute set up a smaller, less life-threatening version of this experiment by trapping dirt and a couple of plants in a completely sealed jar. Much to his surprise, a recent check revealed that the jar was still full of life. His #KurtisInAJar dream was to replicate that experiment on a much bigger and much deadlier level. By attempting to live full-time in a greenery-filled bubble for a couple of days, Baute hoped to teach his viewers and the world about the atmosphere, ecosystem, and the consequences of climate change. His homemade biodome would be completely sealed off from the world and full of plants, the experience live-tweeted and shared with the world via vlog.
Although the thought of sticking yourself in a tiny square of plastic may make you short of breath and induce claustrophobia, Baute started the experiment with the hope that the plants encapsulated with him would create enough oxygen (and get rid of enough carbon dioxide) to make his short-term survival possible. Just to be safe, though, he had a paramedic on-site throughout his experiment and machines with him to test his blood-oxygen levels while in the dome.
Baute didn’t just plan on letting the public in on his domed experiment, he showed the world every step in the bubble building process. His livable jar started off as a cube of two-by-fours he then covered in thick, semi-opaque greenhouse plastic. The cube is only 1,000 cubic feet: Baute could nearly touch every “wall” of his new home at the same time when stretched out on the floor. And while Baute was willing to live without fresh air, he wasn’t ready for a life without WiFi. His cube may have had internet access, but it certainly didn’t have air conditioning—he planned for his new home to reach temperatures of nearly 90 degrees Fahrenheit daily.
So what happened?
Baute officially locked himself in his plant-y bubble at midnight on October 24, 2018. Throughout his stay, he continued tweeting, and not just about his own experience. His messages to the public were focused on the realities of climate change and the ways individuals could reduce their carbon footprints. The information and encouragement was generally well-received, but it ended much sooner than anyone anticipated. After only 14 hours in the bubble, Baute had to stop his experiment and leave his homemade house: an unexpected burst of cloudy weather prevented his plants from producing the requisite amount of oxygen.
Even though Baute had to quit early, his time in the carbon dioxide-filled bubble provides an important message for us all: climate change is real, and we all need to do our part to reduce our impact on the Earth’s sensitive atmosphere. Also, don’t try to seal yourself in a bubble without medical professionals on hand.