On the off chance that down the road, my choice means more Heliox for someone else's newborn child to be able to breathe or someone with a serious illness can be properly diagnosed via an MRI, I think he can do without a few hours (at most) pleasure a helium balloon can bring.
Helium supplies in the United States are running low, and we produce 2/3rds of the world's supply. So our grandkids or great grand kids won't have party balloons, big whoop. Well, helium is used for more than that:
- When combined with oxygen it produces Heliox which is used by deep sea divers and to save newborn babies with breathing problems.
- It cools the magnets in an MRI machine which is used as a diagnosis tool for everything from ligament tears to heart disease and cancer.
- It is used for cooling infrared detectors and nuclear reactors and is crucial for research into creating a waste free nuclear reactor.
- NASA uses it to prevent rocket fuel from exploding.
"In 1996, the US Congress decided to sell off the strategic reserve and the consequence was that the market was swelled with cheap helium because its price was not determined by the market. The motivation was to sell it all by 2015," Professor Richardson said. The basic problem is that helium is too cheap. The Earth is 4.7 billion years old and it has taken that long to accumulate our helium reserves, which we will dissipate in about 100 years. One generation does not have the right to determine availability for ever." Soon after helium mining was developed at the turn of the previous century, the US established a National Helium Reserve in 1925. During the Second World War, helium was strategically important because of its use in military airships.
- The Independent
That article was written in 2010, and of course the situation has gotten even worse. But, late last year the Chairman of the House National Resourses Committee drafted legislation to do something about it. I don't know if that will solve the problem, but at least someone seems to be paying attention. Hopefully there will be enough supplies to last until science can figure out how to create it or come up with an alternative for its critical uses. In the meantime, I will continue my one woman Balloon Boycott.
Just thought you'd want to know.