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

7 responses to “Thomas Midgley: Worst environmental criminal in history?

  1. Time Out

    I nominate Kiffin Simpson for his responsibility for pushing private autos instead of public transit. We owe him for all the roads, the traffic jams and pollution. His political support to the BLP ensured the government would build more roads and not develop mass transit in Barbados.

    Well done Kiffin Simpson! Give him the Thomas Midgley Award!

  2. Colin L Beadon

    The Migley Award could be given to so many of us.

    E.F. Schumacher, famous for his book ‘Small is Beautiful’ , wrote another book for which in my mind, he should have been given equal fame. His book is called ‘Good Work’ . Simple as that.
    Here is a quote.
    ‘ A very clever chap once said that if an ancestor of long ago would visit us today, what would he become astonished at : The skill of our dentists or the rottenness of our teeth ? ‘
    The modern ever increasing and so many ever harmful technologies we have found ourselves eagerly reaching out, snatching for, are fast beginning to take full control of us. We ourselves, are becoming the robots of the new technologies. This is why nature, of which we are part of, is becoming increasingly under the umbrella of violence, a violence against everything that comes under the banner of Nature.
    ‘A nonviolent approach to why our teeth are rotting, would put the best of human intelligence into resolving the question of why our teeth are trotting ?’
    A non violent approach to traffic congestion would likewise pit our intelligence as to why we have been so stupid to allow it . We have to blame many more people than just Kiffin Simpson. We are all to blame.

  3. John

    The office of the PM and Town Planning for giving us the Arch Cot tragedy ….

  4. John

    Caves are all over in Barbados and permissions to develop land in the hands of persons who are not accountable is a recipe for further disaster.

    One can only hope that more such decisions do not return to haunt us

    … and ….

  5. John

    … that people act swiftly and correctly when the signs are displayed.

  6. John

    Not a good omen of things to come.

    Lawyerly skills won’t cut it where technical issues are concerned.

    Use the Town Planning Advisory Committee and don’t depend on lawyerly skills that are irrelevant in many cases ……. wait a minute … who is on it?