A scientist who set out to spend three days sealed inside an airtight biodome to raise awareness of climate change has aborted the experiment 15 hours in, after CO2 levels became too high.
Canadian Kurtis Baute, 28, was living with around 200 plants inside the greenhouse to clean his air and provide oxygen – but a cloudy day in British Columbia limited photosynthesis, allowing CO2 levels in the chamber to rise.
“It did end sooner than I expected, but that’s okay,” Kurtis told the Press Association.
“Environments are complicated things, and it’s easy to be too optimistic about your predictions.”
Kurtis said he could feel himself becoming “sluggish” in the chamber and a paramedic who checked his blood as he was released said it was “a little bit” high in CO2.
“Fortunately our bodies, if they are healthy, are really good at compensating for that and in most cases all that’s needed is a breath of fresh air,” the YouTuber from Vancouver said.
Before the experiment he tweeted: “The messed up thing about my experiment is that some of my abort values (eg if CO2 is too high I escape) are just everyday experiences for many people on this planet.”
Despite the shorter stay in the dome, Kurtis is happy that its fuelled the conversation on climate change.
“I’ve been truly moved by the scale of the conversation this has started,” he said.
“I’ve had so many people tell me on Twitter that this has inspired them to become a vegetarian, a vegan, to drive less, and on and on. It’s been incredible.”
Kurtis says there are parallels that can be drawn between his biodome and Earth’s atmosphere.
“Something that’s critical is that they are both closed systems,” he said.
“Air is a finite resource.
“Yes, plants absorb carbon dioxide, but if we put out too much too quickly, there isn’t time for them to do what they do and it builds up in the atmosphere.
“For me, that meant I was risking suffocating, but for Earth, we are risking our entire climate.
“Personally, this has totally changed my relationship with the air that we inhabit.
“I literally used to see right through it, this fluid that we are immersed in 24 hours a day, but now I see that it is a literal life-force, allowing us to get energy out of our food.
“We have to take a deep breath and start treating our atmosphere better.
“We need all hands on deck with this.”