Balloons or plastic? Plastic from shot down balloons cause more damage

U.S Air Force pilot looked down at the suspected Chinese surveillance balloon as it hovered over the Central Continental United States

Courtesy of MGN

U.S Air Force pilot looked down at the suspected Chinese surveillance balloon as it hovered over the Central Continental United States

Lily Pruitt, Asst. News Editor

On Feb. 4, a 200-foot-tall balloon was shot down off the coast of South Carolina by a U.S. F-22 fighter jet. This Chinese balloon flew across the country, starting in Alaska, followed by several other unidentified objects. The balloon is believed to have been tracking U.S. airspace and U.S. territory. The balloons all went noticed once they reached U.S. military bases. 

President Joe Biden originally made no comment on the national security threat. 

“We are going to keep our allies and Congress contemporaneously informed of all we learn and all we know, and I expect to be speaking with President Xi, but I make no apologies for taking down that balloon,” Biden said.

Biden never spoke directly about these objects belonging to China, but he beat around the bush, leaving many Americans believing the objects do. This has left many citizens worried about the relations between the two countries.

“I think it will definitely impact the relationship between these two countries because a sense of trust has been broken,” said junior English major Joy Hames.

The White House has had several press conferences regarding these flying objects and has said that they will be conducting more surveillance and have involved the FBI. The balloon that was shot down on the coast of South Carolina has been recovered and is now at FBI headquarters being investigated. 

Originally, the White House and the Biden administration were not very transparent with the public and refused several times to comment, especially about why they did not shoot the balloon down earlier. 

“That is going to be a Catch-22 because you can shoot it down over land, but just like water, you are going to have environmental issues on the land side, whether it is plant life or animal life, so you really do not know until something like that happens,” said GC Chief Sustainability Officer Lorianne Hamilton.

There has been a lot of controversy about what these balloons and other objects actually are, with many people thinking they were UFOs, which the White House had to comment on and deny. 

It has left many GC students confused about what these objects actually are. However, students agree with Biden’s final decision to shoot it down.

“I think anything labeled as spy balloon can be intimidating and scary to many people,” Hames said. “I think, in order to give the people of this country peace of mind and a sense of security, it was right for them to shoot the balloon down.”

Many environmentalists are concerned about what the debris of the balloon could do to the ocean’s ecosystem. 

“With this particular event, the main thing is we really do not know what it is until we get it collected and do analysis, so we really do not know what it is made of and then what the end result will be,” Hamilton said. 

There are concerns that the balloon recovery team will leave parts of it down at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. 

“If we do not recover everything, I can see that it is just one more thing that we add to the list of things that are degrading our ecological environment for our aquatics,” Hamilton said. 

“I also think it definitively had an impact on the environment because it could have seriously harmed civilians,” Hames said. “Also, the wreckage could cause some damages that could harm the environment.”