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Sep 26

OF BALL GAMES AND BALLOON RELEASES

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“OF  BALL  GAMES  AND  BALLOON  RELEASES”    By Graham Rouse

RESPONDING  TO  A  LOCAL  CHALLENGE  TO  BALLOON  RELEASES
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Welcome to   Making It With Balloons Network (MIWB.net).
“Making Things, Making Success  & Making A Difference With Balloons”™.

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Photo of Graham RouseOF  BALL  GAMES  AND  BALLOON  RELEASES

Responding To A Local Challenge to Balloon Releases

When I read Mark Zettler’s article on responding to an attempt to ban all except the smallest of balloon releases in an area near his home ( http://miwb.net/blog/?p=1460) I did not imagine that I would soon encounter a challenge to balloon releases on my own home turf.  A recent letter to the editor of the major newspaper in our area suggested that balloon releases at the beginning of football games at the university based in my home town should be replaced with a “greener” alternative.

I prepared a response that I thought was positive and concise at 600 words or so.  That response is published immediately below.  Then, I encountered the “fine print” of letters to the editor; they must be a maximum of 250 words for our newspaper.  You may encounter similar limits in your neighborhood. 

So, it was back to the keyboard.  The second and shorter letter follows the longer version below.  I thought you might find it a useful reference.  How would you add, reduce or change the points to be made?  Like me, you may face these questions in you home town sooner than you expect.

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OF  BALL  GAMES  AND  BALLOON  RELEASES

A recent letter to the editor of the Greenville News of Greenville, South Carolina in the USA suggested that Clemson University should change its tradition of releasing balloons at the beginning of football games.  While that writer enjoyed the ceremonial display, he wondered if were worth the cost to the environment.  I believe it is worth it and more.

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ENVIORNMENTAL COSTS

First, the environmental costs are actually quite small when balloon releases are handled with some reasonable care:

(1)  Use latex balloons rather than film balloons (especially metallic coated film balloons).

………. (a)  Latex balloons are made from the sap of rubber trees and biodegrade at about the ………………. same rate as oak leaves in the environment.

………. (b)  Latex balloons freeze and shatter into small pieces at high altitudes.

………. (c)  Latex balloons do not conduct electricity.

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(2)  Release balloon in clear weather.  Rain, for instance, will not hurt the balloons, but it can weigh the balloons down.  You could end up with mess on the ground at your release sight or a few blocks or few miles away.  It is only when the balloons get very high that they really spread out and shatter into those tiny pieces that are not likely to ever be discovered before they biodegrade.

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(3)  Release balloons in the open or when you are sure the wind will carry them clear of trees, wires and other obstacles. Latex balloons are very unlikely to harm objects they encounter, and they do not conduct electricity. There can, however be a hazard to foolish children and adults who attempt to retrieve balloons that are lodged in precarious places.

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(4)  If you want to attach things to the balloons, make sure they are also biodegradable and do not conduct electricity.

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(5)   If you want to release balloons near airports, clear it with the control tower first.  Latex balloons are not likely to do the kind of damage to jet engines that a flock of birds might, but it is better to be safe.

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ENVIORNMENTAL BENEFITS

Second, there are environmental benefits of using balloons in abundance.

We are blessed in our part of the country with an abundance of green foliage, but world wide, forests are being destroyed at an alarming rate.  These forests, particularly jungle forests, provide a large percentage of the earth’s air filtration.  Owners of forests do not get paid for that air cleaning and renewal role of their trees, but they do get paid for sap from their rubber trees. Sale and use of latex balloons provides an economic incentive to keep forests of rubber trees alive and cleaning the air we breathe.

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BENEFITS OF SPIRIT

Third, there are significant benefits of spirit to the use of balloons.

There is a bit of magic in balloons.   They catch our eyes and lift our spirits.  Our emotions soar with them as they lift off at a football game, a grand opening or a birthday party.  They can even draw our thoughts toward higher spiritual meanings as they float skyward from a graveside ceremony or a 911 memorial service. Even a single balloon on a string can touch our hearts when we see a child’s eyes light up as he or she observes the magic kite that flies without wind and that transforms a clear sky into sparkling color.  And, when we see balloons fill the air by the tens of thousands at a national political convention we understand that we have reached the climax of this event and that these experts of persuasion have chosen the magic of balloons to build a positive, emotional association between us and them.

Let us continue to use the magic of balloons to build on the positive associations between Clemson University football and the football fans.  It is worth it.

Graham Rouse
Clemson, SC USA

[Issues around the pregame release of balloons are still alive and active in November 2011. Read more in this article on Making It With Balloons Network:  “Balloon Life vs Wildlife  –  Who Will Survive?“]

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Here is the short version of the response letter to the editor.

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A recent letter asked if the benefits of balloon releases at Clemson University football games are worth the environmental costs.  I believe they are worth it and more.

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First, environmental costs are quite small if a few reasonable measures are taken:

(1)  Use latex balloons.

….. (a)  Latex balloons are sap from rubber trees and biodegrade in the environment at about ………….. the same rate as Oak leaves.

….. (b)  They do not conduct electricity.

….. (c)  They freeze and shatter into small pieces at high altitudes

(2)  Release balloons

….. (a) away from airports,

….. (a) without attachments,

….. (a) in clear weather and

….. (a) with clear paths to open sky.

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 Second, there are environmental benefits to using balloons in abundance.  Jungle forests play a critical role in filtering the air of this earth, yet they are being destroyed at an alarming rate. Sale and use of latex balloons provides an economic incentive to keep forests of rubber trees alive and cleaning the air we breathe.

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Third, there are significant benefits of spirit.

Balloons catch our eyes and lift our spirits at football games, grand openings and birthday parties.  They draw our thoughts toward spiritual meanings as they float skyward from graveside ceremonies or 911 memorial services. We see tens of thousands fill the air at conventions and know that experts have chosen the magic of balloons to build positive associations between us and them.

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Let us continue to do the same for Clemson football.  It is worth it.

Graham Rouse
Clemson, SC USA

Read the full letter at http://miwb.net/blog/?p=1558

[Issues around the pregame release of balloons are still alive and active in November 2011. Read more in this article on Making It With Balloons Network:  “Balloon Life vs Wildlife  –  Who Will Survive?“]

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Thanks for reading/listening.  I am

Graham Rouse
Making It With Balloons Network
At http://miwb.net Your Resource Center For
“Making Things, Making Success & Making A Difference With Balloons”™.
© Graham Rouse 2010

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3 comments

1 ping

  1. Mark Zettler

    Well said my friend. Hope it gets a positive response and Clemson gets their balloons!

  2. Amie Koporc

    How do you know the environmental costs are small? What is your definition of small? Only a few dead animals? What if some of those animals are endangered? Clemson U’s own research (http://www.clemson.edu/academics/programs/creative-inquiry/projects/spotlight/balloon-release.html ) shows “that up to 81 percent of a balloon is left intact and in large pieces. Larger pieces are thought to take longer to degrade and are potentially more dangerous to animals.” Even if I accept your point that a balloon degrades at the rate of an oak leaf (6 months) that still poses a huge risk to wildlife. I also question your statement that “experts have chosen the magic of balloons to build positive associations between us and them.” Who is us? The aforementioned “experts?” Who are those “experts” anyway? Student services? Do they have a background in marine biology, environmental studies, or veterinary medicine? I think your thoughts are biased based on your vested interest as a balloon vendor.

  3. admin

    Thanks for your comments, Amie.
    — Sorry to be slow in getting your note up. I wanted to give it more attention than I might in a short reply here.
    — Please read my response in this new blog post: “Balloon Life vs. Wildlife – Who Will Survive?” http://miwb.net/blog/?p=2271
    — The summary goes like this:

    “If preliminary conclusions from this new, independent research prove out, then the choice between “Balloon Life or Wildlife ?” will seem irrelevant. It will have been shown that both kinds of life can survive amicably. People like you and me, who hold “biases” in favor of one form of life or the other will be able to shift attention to more serious threats to our favorites.”

    Graham Rouse

  1. BALLOON LIFE vs WILDLIFE – Who Will Survive? | Making It With Balloons - Network

    […] Her comments, questions and challenge were spurred by this earlier article on MIWB.net:  “Of Ball Games And Balloon Releases“.  Her full text is included […]

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