Its a finite resource, we are using it up, and we can never make any more until we get to the outer planets.
We can. It isn't easy/cheap and may never be totally practical, but it can be done for less than the costs of getting it from the outer planets.
There are also replacements for helium. They aren't exact replacements and do come with their own issues (liquid hydrogen = fire). With effort, they can be used. Hydrogen under vacuum pressure can be made to boil at temperatures close enough to helium for most applications.
Helium can also be recycled, which today rarely happens. It is not generally collected as a gas and re-liquefied. Maybe if its availability goes down, driving its cost up, people might make efforts to recapture the helium they boil.
I do understand that when helium is depleted we will probably find other ways to accomplish things, but it’s still silly to be venting a gas that we KNOW has a finite amount over the lifetime of the Earth or using it for party balloons.
Even if the entire world was 100% running on fusion power we would still be short orders of magnitude from our current demand. MRI machines can switch to designs that don’t use helium, parties are simply going to have to go without long term.
Virtually all helium on Earth was formed on Earth, through radioactive decay within its interior, releasing beta particles (helium nuclei). The helum industrially sourced tends to come from natural gas extraction -- the same reservoirs which trap natural gas (methane) also trap helium fairly well.
Molecular hydrogen also exceeds escape velocity. About 1/4 of the water originally present on earth has escaped to space, after being dissociated into hydrogen and oxygen.
I'm all for preserving helium, but sensationalist BS doesn't help.
> On the surface of the Earth, the escape velocity is about 11.2 km/s
The thermal velocity (at room temperature) of He is 1.245 km/s
There is no way that Helium reaches escape velocity without some sort of mechanical assistance.
I've heard it theorized that Helium, because it is prone to float at the outer edges of the atmosphere, is particularly susceptible to being stripped away by solar winds. I don't have sufficient expertise to evaluate this claim, but it seems at least plausible. This can't be happening very much, though, or our atmosphere would much more closely resemble that of Mars, which lacks a protective magnetosphere.
Thermal velocity is an average - there is a distribution of velocities around this average. It says that right in the article you linked to.
At the high end of the distribution, some Helium atoms will indeed have velocities greater than the Earth's escape velocity.
However, there were some contradictions I couldn't immediately understand. This source  says "Only about one in a million helium atoms is lost from Earth via Jeans’ escape.". But it also cites a plot from  showing the rule-of-thumb for Jeans' escape: 1/6th the escape velocity vs the RMS thermal velocity. In this case, He has an RMS velocity of 2.5 km/s at T=1000, which is greater than 1.9 km/s.
See e.g. https://www.quora.com/What-are-main-sources-of-helium-gas
So- spacebased, scoop - spiral catching to get this?
Normal latex balloons are biodegradable.
I've been looking into the airship question recently, raised the AV failure, wasn't aware of the cause.
If adopted on a large scale, tremendous volumes of air will be liquefied daily. One can imagine tapping this stream to extract the helium, which will remain gaseous.
You don't really need much helium for what it's used for, it could work - prices would go up, but we wouldn't run out.
EDIT: actually, it will depend on the solubility of helium in the liquid air.
When I was a kid, helium balloons were much less common than today (at least in my country) and I remember seeing them as objects of desire.
In Texas, the reserves are being depleted, while at the same time overall demand for the gas has been growing.
"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"
That would normally be the job of the journalist that wrote the article. ‘dafuq, Bloomberg? “You know, the helium shortage.” No, I don’t know, Bloomberg. Is it related to the sell-off of U. S. helium reserves a while back? Or is it something different this time?
Instead, we get “will your kids get balloons at their party this year?” Oh, and some brief mention about pharma, but we don’t really know how that works, so...yeah.
Its helpful for geo-political news since I don't always have encyclopedic and historical knowledge of every region of the world.
It's not, of course, much of an option for cryogenic processes where helium is required.
One problem is that when they later sell it these investors are often demonized as profiteers and speculators, and occasionally strung up in lampposts. Perhaps less so for this kind of goods.
Is it demand increasing prices or an actual shortage?
> We might need it in the future.
Or we might discover an unlimited source of it. Unlikely? sure. But the problem with "what if" is that it's just too vague with the assumptions to add clarity, when we can't predict the repercussions of the even flap of a butterfly's wings (to borrow the expression).
Also, lots of things can have indirect positive effects. I know lots of people got interested in space and other cool things as a result of that jump.
I think sometimes it's good for humans to do a thing just to see if they can.
At the current usage rate its estimated we have a 200 year supply left.
Currently it is just vented out into the air, because capture isn't profitable.
an (obviously naive) extrapolation at that rate gives 35 years supply.