Re: Balloon breaking previous records U3B-25

Joe Street

Well thank you Halden for your perspective and I'm glad I'm not alone.  I do feel both sides of the issue believe me.  I am as much a technogeek as a lover of our surroundings.  I am not surprised that the discussion turns so quickly to a rationale for what is being done, afterall there has been a rational for most of what we have done before, good and bad in this world.  The idea of simply dividing the size of the balloon into the size of the earth doesn't really wash with me, just ask anyone who has done much climbing about how often they find litter in the high places (and I'm not talking about spent cylinders and gear that spoiled rich people neglect to pack out) and you may be surprised.  The high places seem to rake the atmosphere for whatever is borne aloft. I guess I feel strongly about it because the high country is kind of sacred to me.  Being a glider pilot I have seen all manner of things flying in thermals but never a weather or amateur balloon.  Myself I couldn't come up with any rationale for engaging in this aspect of our hobby but then again I wouldn't throw a message in a bottle into the sea or float a truckload of rubber ducks down a river but my personal balance point between being the information seeker and being the nature lover I can't impose on others.  I only wanted to make a suggestion to consider another perspective.

Best regards
Joe ve3vxo

On Mon, Mar 25, 2019 at 8:23 PM HF via Groups.Io <> wrote:

Hi Joe and others

I am pleased to read that other hams are concerned, as I am, about the garbage problem to which disposable radio balloons contribute.  Thank you, Joe, for raising the issue.

Yes, it's unlikely that a human will encounter one of 29% the radio balloons that falls on land.  However, that doesn't mean it's not garbage or not bad.  Humans are not the only creatures on this planet who are harmed by humans' garbage.  Furthermore, I do not discount the other 71% of the balloons that become garbage in the ocean either.  Yes, the components of the circuit will decompose in perhaps hundreds of years, but only the exposed metals will decompose within the first few years in the ocean.  The circuit board, ICs, and other components will probably last longer than we will.  The mylar balloon will not decompose rapidly in the ocean.  It will last a long time and would probably kill a creature if ingested.  It will become part of the ocean plastic crisis.  See for an introduction and links to other articles describing various facets of the crisis.

To me, launching a radio balloon is equivalent to throwing the equivalent amount of garbage into the sea or forest.  Rationalizing it as a tiny amount of garbage relative to the enormity of the global garbage problem doesn't satisfy me.  On the other hand, I am eager to participate in this part of the ham radio hobby once I learn a bit more and Hans introduces the U3B.

When I accidentally lose a piece of garbage to the wind while hiking and am unable to retrieve it, I make a special effort to pick up at least that much trash on my way back.  Similarly, I have considered coupling a personal effort to pick up ocean trash or a donation to or  to a future balloon launch.  Still, I'm not quite comfortable with this either, as it reeks of "emissions trading".

I would welcome further discussion and exploration on how we can continue these high-altitude propagation and metrology experiments while contributing to environmental solutions rather than being part of the problem.

Halden VE7UTS

Join to automatically receive all group messages.