The Helium Cliff is very real but we haven’t heard anything about it. Yes, we have a helium reserve and all the helium is to be sold from the reserve by 2015. Due to the government wanting this mass and fast sell off of the reserve they have fixed the price well below market value. Why does any of this matter to you and me? One reason it matters is because once the reserve is sold off private companies will control the price and one estimate predicts that a party balloon bought today at market value would cost $100.00. Now one may think no big deal I don’t need a party balloon but helium is used for many other things. It is used in MRI machines as a coolant, it is also used in arc welding of certain materials, also used in titanium production, a leak detector in manufacturing machines, and to cool super conducting magnets such as the ones used in the L.H.C.
You many think all this is great information but what is the big deal we can just make more or draw more out of the air like we do with other gasses, or chemicals. Well, we can’t do that. Helium is created when stars like our sun blow up to use relative terms. In the processes of a star dying it creates helium and it takes a massive amount of energy to do so. Once helium is gone it is gone. It will be gone long before oil, gold, silver, or any other chemical we know. The only place to get it after it has all been mined from Earth will be space or the moon. Yes, I said mined. Since helium is so light it escapes from our atmosphere and we actually have to mine it out of the ground similar to oil where it has been trapped. Actually helium was an accidental discovery resulting from drilling for oil.
In the next 30 years your grandchildren will not know what the Goodyear blimp was or have a party balloon at their birthday. Why do I call it a cliff? Due to the lack of reserves and the sell off of the National Helium Reserve and the government steep underpricing it, it will affect a lot. It will make certain science experiments that have helped progress sciences too expensive to perform, it will make titanium that is so popularly used, sky rocket in price. The cost of certain builds that require arc welding will go up and it will make getting a MRI too expensive to be used as a normal medical screen for the serious ill.
A cliff it will be but it is a silent cliff that most don’t know about or pay attention to. A lot has to do with pure misunderstanding of how important helium is to us and not realizing how scares it is. It is something that will go and people will only find out the effects after it is too late. Don’t be mistaken there are more cliffs out there that I think are more important than if our taxes go up a little. Like this one.