In the early 20’s, inventor Thomas Midgley Jr. discovered that he could make car engines more efficient by adding Tetraethyllead to gasoline, and was awarded a Nichols Medal. Later, it was discovered that the chemicals had filled the atmosphere with lead, leading to worldwide lead poisoning.
In the late 20’s, the same inventor synthesized one the first Chloroflourocarbons, known as CFC, and received the Perkin Medal. It was later discovered that the immense amounts of CFC produced by hairspray and other everyday products had reduced the ozone layer by 4% every decade since the invention. The wound is not expected to heal fully within our lifetimes.
At the age of 51, Midgley contracted polio. Unable to get out of bed by himself, he constructed a machine which could pull him out and help him stand without his family having to help. He got entangled in the wires, and died of suffocation. It is now believed that Midgley has affected our planet’s atmosphere more than any other organism that has ever existed.