Saturday, June 30, 2012

Full of Hot Air

Yes, I have been absent this week. A combination of busy life and Millie sitting. Seems like I will be completely oblivious to time when the twins arrive. But for now I am writing as I can.....because I miss talking to myself, I guess.

Balloons. We take them for granted. We have them for new babies, for parties, to mark the site of a garage sale. Latex. Mylar. Balloons for the sick. Balloons for the well. Balloons to delight and to mark special occasions. Car dealers tie them to their cars. Vendors sell them at fairs and the circus.

Helium is becoming an extinct natural resource. It is a non-renewable resource. Like so many of our other gifts of the earth, we are deleting one more. We are a world in crisis. A crisis that we have helped along by our greed and lack of information.

We at Hallmark are having trouble getting helium tanks for our balloons. Our order now stands three months out. Even then, we may not receive any. In all honesty, I think we should stop selling balloons and do our part to conserve helium. I didn't realize the variety of ways in which helium is used. Helium cools superconducting magnet in MRI machines and other equipment. Cryogenics is the biggest user of the gas. Our TVs and the internet all use helium. The military uses helium balloons. Submarines use helium to clean up noisy signals. The Department of Defense uses helium balloons to detect heat-guided missiles. Helium is used in research balloons. The next generation of nuclear reactors will rely on helium for cooling. Even the space shuttles used helium.

There are helium sources in the middle east, but the US does not want to rely on those sources, plus eventually they will be extinct as well. Some companies are recycling their helium. I'm not sure how it is done, but this may preserve the only helium left in our part of the world (perhaps in the entire  world).

I always have this niggling thought in my head about using the resources beneath our soil. I wonder what we are messing with that may be needed for the ecological soundness of our inner earth. When do we become responsible? Wait until it's too late?

Well, each time I fill a helium balloon I think of the shortage. Yes, it is only one balloon. One balloon here another there. A bouquet of six balloons. An MRI machine. Coolant for a nuclear reactor. Safety of our nation. Helium balloons in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. What is the true cost of  helium balloons for fun versus helium used to benefit mankind?

Next time you need a balloon try to think of an alternative. Maybe it will take a bit more effort to come up with an alternative. Perhaps you might need to be a bit creative. I know you can do it. I know you can. I know I will try.

1 comment:

  1. I've never been a big fan of helium balloons. Earlier this week the grandgirls and I had a lot of fun with water balloons. Yes, water is also in short supply, but the water eventually went on my yard, which was very thirsty!