Helium is extremely valuable for research and technology because it boils at the low temperature of -269oC, close to the lowest attainable temperature known as absolute zero (-273oC) and thus is used in its liquid form whenever extremely low temperatures are required.
Helium is not a renewable resource. It is found underground and obtained as a byproduct of natural gas extraction and supplies are running low. While most research facilities try to capture and recycle used helium, some loss is inevitable and supplies need to be constantly replenished. This is becoming steadily harder with research machines becoming idle for want of supplies.
The American Physical Society and other scientific organizations warned over a decade ago that a shortage was coming. It did not help when Congress in 1996 passed the Helium Privatization Act that mandated the sale of the federal helium reserve by 2015, which had been under the jurisdiction of the US Bureau of Land Management. This reserve supplies about 40% of domestic and 35% of worldwide requirements and once exhausted can never be replaced.
It is time to ban the use of helium for frivolous purposes, such as party balloons and the like.