Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Man Who Poisoned The Earth?

Sometimes, it is said a single person can be the thing that makes a difference. This difference may not always be for the better. Thomas Midgley Jr. was an American chemist who mostly worked during the period of the 1920's to the 1930's. He is most famous for his chemical contributions to the consumer lifestyle we take for granted today.

Without Mr. Midgley, we would have no common everyday items such as CFC aerosol spray cans, freon, leaded gasoline, or any of a thousand different ozone depleting chemical combinations. Nor would we have had any chemicals with the words "Tetra-Ethyl" in front of them. (My favorite is "Tetra-Ethyl Death"). Yes, without him, we would not have free-floating lead in the air, or the chemical stew found along country roads and in lakes, now slowly making it's way into the human gene pool.

It has been said, Mr. Midgley has been the one single organism in history that has had the greatest impact on our environment and atmosphere. Though the world was blinded by the exploits of science at the time, they should have seen it coming. While he was developing his Ethyl gasoline compound, the workers at the manufacturing plant were struck by a series of hallucinations, illness, insanity, and death. Mr. Midgley was himself poisoned by lead, forcing him to take a year off work to recouperate.

His inventions eventually killed him. He contracted Polio and was confined to bed, using a system of ropes and pulleys he devised to help lift him. He became entangled and died in 1940.

He remains part of the infernal order of inventors and techo-wizards, whose seemingly magical inventions have doomed the world to an uncertain future.

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