Daily Archives: May 12, 2011

Thomas Midgley: Worst environmental criminal in history?

In his portrait, he looks like a respectable man of his time. Intelligent eyes, distinguished appearance and a look of confidence. Nice suit. A successful man. Friendly. A kind and caring father, a good neighbour. A man to be trusted.

It just shows how little you can tell from a formal portrait, for Thomas Midgley invented something that killed people. He knew his invention was killing people and destroying the environment but for years he lied and kept on promoting his invention. Even when his invention ruined his own health, he continued to lie and cover-up to keep making money.

Meet Thomas Midgley, Jr. – Vice President of General Motors and inventor of lead in gasoline.

And, after his work poisoning people and the environment with lead, he went on to “give” the world the miracle of CFCs like Freon that destroy the ozone layer.

Fortunately, Mr. Midgley was strangled to death by one of his other inventions before he could do further harm.

Who are the Thomas Midgleys of Barbados?

There is a lesson here for modern Barbados as we watch the Midgley’s of our day wall off the coasts, fail to pass environmental legislation while approving commercial development of the last remaining wetlands, and continuing to believe that more cars on more roads is a plan to make our island home the best it can be for future generations.

Who are the Bajan Midgleys? Let’s name them here…


Filed under Barbados, Environment, History, Technology