The Instigator
DrNRG
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
minddrag
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Helium Balloons and Blimps Should be Banned.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/7/2016 Category: Science
Updated: 9 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 404 times Debate No: 86187
Debate Rounds (2)
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DrNRG

Pro

Helium balloons, blimps, and other frivolous uses of helium should be banned / legally outlawed.

Helium gas is so light that much of it escapes earth's atmosphere completely and goes off into outer space impossible to recover. Helium is not a renewable resource and cannot be economically synthesized. Synthesis involves hitting Lithium or Boron atoms with high velocity protons and this does not yield economically useful amounts. Some helium is generated from alpha particles from radioactive decay of certain heavy metals such as Uranium and Thorium, however, this method is also not economical and wouldn't satisfy the world's needs. Virtually all helium used commercially is extracted from natural gas deposits, the problem is, we only have about 50 years of supply left at current consumption rates.

Helium is an important elemental resource with many unique properties. It is used for superconductors, advanced medical equipment such as MRIs, atmospheric protection for growing silicon crystals (for computer chips), it has a lower boiling point than any other element so can be cooled to lower temperatures than liquid nitrogen giving it many valuable properties ~ it becomes a super fluid at 0 Kelvin giving it properties more in the realm of quantum mechanics than standard particle physics. Basically, it has a lot of very important scientific and advanced medical uses and there is a finite limited supply; unnecessarily wasting it in silly balloons and blimps is something that future generations (or even us 40-50 years from now) will look back on and wonder how the hell we could have been so stupid.
minddrag

Con

Hello, my name is minddrag and it is very nice to meet you. I look forward to a good and challenging debate against you, on this topic.

First off, I would like to point out that many countries in the world are not communist, nor are they run by a dictatorship. This means that we cannot simply revoke non-dangerous items from our citizens, some who make a living off these devices without reason. This is to say, I cannot say we are going to run out of original copies of a book soon, all original copies should now be in use of the government. Now I know this is not the perfect example, but I hope it clearly outlines my first point. This is to say that people make their livings off of hot air balloons, and selling products with helium inside of them, and we cannot just cut these people off.

Since helium is still a (although hard to create) renewable resource, most people will believe that we can still treat it as one. This is because as the supply dwindles, the theories of economics will kick in and achieve, just what you are stating. What will happen is as the supply drops, the price of helium will rise. If we only have 50 years of helium, as you have previously stated, then the price will rise so much that we cannot actually purchase it for recreational uses. But you have to let the public come to a realisation on this one. To forcabally remove a product that is not dangerous from the public, will be detrimental to itself.

Next, as far as I can tell, blimps are not in the business of releasing their helium are they. Helium balloons keep most of their helium and just use it to rise, so it is not as if we are losing all of the helium in a blimp when one flies are we?

Another reason is, some people have flying blimps or riding in one as a hobby or a dream. You cannot rip somebody's dream away from them, because of a renewable resource might run out.

It is for these reasons that I, as side con believe this resolution must and will fall.
Debate Round No. 1
DrNRG

Pro

I am not suggesting that countries need to have communist or dictatorship regimes in order to take an active interest in conserving non-renewable resources. All developed countries, regardless of their political structure, already have laws addressing protection, conservation, and management of natural resources. The United Nations Environmental Program defines sustainable development as: "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". Any laws with respect to helium conservation would be formulated under this doctrine.

As for helium production, there are really only a handful of countries involved. Some 78% comes from the United States, with the remainder coming from Algeria, Russia, Poland, and Qatar; as the U.S. has the lion's share of the resource, U.S. law would have the most impact. What would be the most effective legal approach? Arresting people caught with helium balloons? ~ Probably not. But regulating the industry, managing suppliers, controlling the market, basically, formulating laws with an eye toward making this precious gas less available to frivolous uses would be the way to go. Right now for instance, you can go to any Walmart and buy a tank of helium for party balloons for about $50 USD, this tank will fill around 50 balloon at a cost of $1 USD ea. Robert Richardson, who won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1996, makes the argument that a helium balloon should cost closer to $110 USD ea. to more accurately reflect that actual scarcity of the gas.

The trouble with leaving it to the free market is, it doesn't always get things right. Currently the market niches are being filled, 180 million standard cubic meters of helium are being harvested per year, so the free market will behave largely as if this will continue to occur in perpetuity, which it definitely won't. Futures markets aren't looking far enough into the future to recognize the true scarcity of the resource, so it could be argued that the helium markets are artificially cheap due to the characteristic short-term considerations of the free-market.

To digress a bit, I'll offer one correction to your argument. You mentioned hot air balloons as part of this discussion. Hot air balloons do not work on helium, they work on 'hot air', natural gases found in the troposphere that is composed of roughly 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and 1% argon. These gases are usually heated by a propane burner in a hot-air balloon, and because of the physics of fluid dynamics these hot 'air' gases become lighter than the surrounding gases giving the balloon buoyancy.

The issue with blimps is that they are primarily used for advertising, which is frivolous considering that there are comparable alternatives available. One blimp/zeppelin takes anywhere from 190,700 to 494,000 cubic feet of helium, the equivalent of 629.5k - 1.63 million 10 inch helium balloons. - There are some uses for blimps other than advertising that could be more appropriate in the areas of science and national defense, but these applications would need to be carefully considered if there are viable alternatives available.

I understand that people may want to ride in a blimp, but again, there are other comparable alternatives such as hot air balloons and many other ways to get airborne that don't involve wasting helium.

Consider this however, at your age its a real possibility that at some future date when you may need an MRI scan and you may not be able to get one; at that time, you could look back and wonder about the irresponsible decisions that led to a very real shortage of an irreplaceable natural resource.
minddrag

Con

That was a very impressive speech! I thank you for this good opportunity to test my skills, and I hope the voting process (as I have never voted before) is fair.I will first rebut a few points made by my opponent.

First off I was not insinuating that a country must be communist to take a stance against this resource. I am simply stating that to take harmful objects away from your citizens purchasing power, would be a communist move, not a move worthy of american interests.

Controlling the market is not a value that the United States promotes. The United States promotes a Free Market, and to artificially control a price of an object would wreck the economics of the country. If you controlled the price of helium to rise so much, the price of helium manufacturers will artificially rise, and the stock will rise. This will cause a rip in the economy and it will have been artificially produced. The government already has locks in place to prevent anyone or anything from artificially controlling the market.

If the free market is not getting the price right, but as you stated in your first argument Helium can still be created, then that process will start to be more commonplace and the production will fall. This means that the price will rise. We CAN leave it to free market to control the price, there is no need to artificially control pricing of the object. Even though the characteristics of a free market are short term, this does not mean that the market will not adjust to be the right price over the long term.

The next problem is that you told me that helium cans still be created. This means even though how slow it can be, it can still be created. I feel like the helium used to create the medical and electronic devices can be recycled. This does not mean that helium is a finite resource, it just means it is rare, and when it becomes rare, the market will reflect that fact and change the price.

With blimps, you do not just throw out all the helium after the blimp is finished flying. You keep some to most of the helium. This means that you can recycle and reuse this helium to make your electronics if it is needed. This does not mean that the helium is gone, it can be reused.

My age has nothing to do with this debate. Even if I am a young student, does not mean that I will look back and be critical on my fore-bearers, as they have done what they thought was right. If I need a MRI scan I am sure if this problem arises that we cannot make them, there will still be MRI machines or we will have another tactic to make these scans. The human race will not lie down because it is hard to create a resource.

Now that I have finished responding to my opponents points, I will move on to my conclusion.

In conclusion, I would like to thank my opponent for a good debate and I hope that we will debate later on another challenging topic. In conclusion the reason that Blimps should not be banned are because the resource is renewals, although hard to renew, we do not lose all the helium from the blimps and balloons, the free market will fix the price later and they are used for hobbies, advertising and peoples jobs. Thank you and I look forward to our next debate, DrNRG, and thank you for your respectful and active participation in this debate!
Debate Round No. 2
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