‘The scarcity of helium is a really serious issue,’ he is set to say. ‘I can imagine that in 50 years’ time our children will be saying, “I can’t believe they used such a precious material to fill balloons.”‘
The scientist will continue: ‘If we keep using it for non-essential things like party balloons, where we’re just letting it float off into space, we could be in for some serious problems in around 30 to 50 years’ time.’
This is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
He’s giving the Christmas Lectures.
And he’s using mineral reserves as a signifier of resources available.
Please press the button here.
Reserves are what we’ve bothered to check are absolutely there, we can extract with current technology and at current prices. Every generation runs out of mineral reserves: for we only bother to spend the money to prove reserves for a few decades into the future. ‘Coz it costs money, see? A few decades, a generation….you see the connection?
Total availability is “resource”. Currently for helium, in places that we know about but haven’t bothered to prove, it’s about 300 year’s worth. Err, that’s longer than the life of the gas deposits that hold it. And I don’t think anyone’s even tested shale gas for helium contents yet. There are reasonable reasons to think that shale could be heavier or lighter in helium than other deposits.
Oh, and helium is constantly being generated here on Planet Earth. It’s a possible daughter product of the fission of natural uranium…..
And I’m afraid I’ve just had to write him an email about this. For, and here’s what seriously worries me, appalls me in fact. A sensible universe would not have me knowing more about this than an FRCS.