THE VINE AUGUST 6, 2010
A great random tidbit from Stan Cox's new book, Losing Our Cool, about the invention of ozone-depleting CFCs:
The breakthrough CFC refrigerant, Freon, was invented in 1930 by chemist Thomas Midgley, working for General Motors' Frigidaire division. Midgley earlier had found that the problem of car engine knocking could be solved by adding lead, which wound up causing serious air pollution and health problems. On the strength of his two momentous discoveries, Midgley was credited by historian J.R. McNeill as having "had more impact on the atmosphere than any other single organism in earth history."
Um, whoops? It's not like the guy was doing anything wrong, either—he was just coming up with brilliant ideas to improve peoples' lives. Makes one wonder what sorts of unforeseen side effects we're later likely to find associated with some of today's most popular inventions…