Monday, May 28, 2012

Union Carbide's 1950s promise of "...a hand in things to come"

How d'ya like them apples?

Retronaut recently featured this amazing gallery of Big Brother-ish ads from Union Carbide. Besides the classic 1950s illustration and long copy, they are fascinating for the postwar arrogance of the whole thing.

This was an era when science was on the march, and anything was possible if we had the right men on the job. From pesticides to energy, petrochemicals to bionic parts, this company promised to shape the world of tomorrow.

The real question is, how many of these were positive developments, and how many contributed to the sad state of the world today?

Chemicals from coal. Check out the green mist.
This environmental destruction is supposed to be inspiring, not terrifying.
My elbow was recently rebuilt with stuff like this.
sand... I mean SAND!
Fabricated building materials. Dig the sexy lede.
The original Green Revolution.
Weatherproof materials and treatments.
Oscar-winning arc lighting.
Plastic landscape fabric.
God complex much?
Maybe se should go back to the word "atomic".
People are much less likely to mispronounce that.
Powering the modern housewife...

...and the jet set.
Of course, the optimism couldn't last forever. In December 1984, Union Carbide ended up having a "hand" in killing 3,787 people in Bhopal, India, when one of their pesticide plants leaked deadly toxins into the air of the nearby slums.

Among their other handiwork are the dioxins in Sydney Harbour, Australia, that have made all fish there unsuitable for human consumption, death by silicosis of 476 West Virginia miners in the 1920s, and buildings with lots and lots of asbestos.

 I wonder if these two later turned on, tuned in, and dropped out?

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