Building a world of
resilient communities.



The coming helium shortage

Where will you be when the world runs out of helium?

It’s surprising how many scientists and nonscientists alike are oblivious of the pending helium shortage. But it is a fact—we will run out of helium. According to the Committee on the Impact of Selling the Federal Helium Reserve, formed from members of the Board on Physics and Astronomy and the National Materials Advisory Board of the National Research Council, the question is when, not if, this will happen. Conservative estimates of the helium remaining indicate that the U.S. private reserves may run out by 2015, assuming the rate of helium consumption stays constant at the 1998 rate (1). Obviously, a continued increase in helium demand could significantly advance the date when the world’s supply becomes critical.

Many people might say that their lives are not greatly influenced by the available helium supply, but the loss of this unique resource is not likely to go unnoticed. Helium, which primarily exists as the 4He isotope, is a gas under standard temperature and pressure conditions. The low density of this gas has uses ranging from circumnavigating the world in a Rozier balloon to upper atmosphere probes to festive party balloons.

Liquid helium displays very unusual properties. Helium becomes liquid when it is cooled below 4.2 K (–269 °C). When cooled to even lower temperatures,

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Sign up for regular Resilience bulletins direct to your email.

Take action!  

Find out more about Community Resilience. See our COMMUNITIES page
Start your own projects. See our RESOURCES page.
Help build resilience. DONATE NOW.


This is a community site and the discussion is moderated. The rules in brief: no personal abuse and no climate denial. Complete Guidelines.


A Landscape of Dreams

One of the core themes of the Retrotopia narrative I’ve been …

Heart and Soul: Meet the UK Groups Changing Activism

Building movements that are truly liberating takes heart and soul.

Report back: 2015 Transition Network conference & Gathering of National Hubs

It was sobering to be at the conference in its greenness and moisture yet …

Our new Support Offer Theme: Practical Projects

Practical projects show that change is possible and that Transition is a …

There’s No Single Right Path : Resilience Reflections with Chris Smaje

There’s no single right path and there’s a lot to be learned …

Grace Boggs: Reviving the Lost City

Grace Lee Boggs died on Monday, October 5, 2015. We hope that this article, …

Rebulding the Commons: A Global Network of Rebel Cities Takes Place

The city vs. the state. The Cities of the Commons vs. global neoliberalism. …