What we do
Prior to the inception of the ACROSS mission, which we regard as the beginning of our third, The Mileham Organisation had two very distinct eras. During the first we did little other receive applications and issue grants for those projects which aligned with our goals. Some produced interesting and valuable results but nothing revolutionary. We also needed to raise funds to replenish the trust and that proved difficult. The world was at war for much of the first half of the 20th century and afterwards there was a concerted push to rebuild and grow industry. Milesham and its concerns about the natural environment were unpopular in that post-war industrial boom and the trust became dangerously depleted.
In response to our diminished finances and under new leadership, the organisation adoped a different approach towards the end of the century. While we continued to issue research grants, our preference became forming partnerships with them and co-owning resulting discoveries. Over time many of those partners joined the organisation and we grew a substantial capacity to conceive and conduct our own research. This in addition to developing potentially valuable findings into commercially viable technologies saved the organisation. We licensed those technologies to governments and businesses for use in an environmentally responsible manner and the trust became self-renewing.
Several key discoveries made during that second era earned the organisation considerable wealth. For example our team developed a new technique for satellite imaging to greatly enhance our atmospheric and hydrographic monitoring capabilities. That technique also produces significantly more detailed and data efficient images than any other available technology. It is now under license to and in use by a number of governments and businesses who maintain orbital satellites.
With unprecedented funds and a healthy appreciation of the value of space based environmental research we committed to the construction of our own station, ACROSS. It is a huge endeavour which presently occupies all the organisation’s human and financial resources. For that reason we have temporarily suspended funding new research and once the station is complete will concentrate on supporting research conducted there.
Why we do it
Climate change impacts on human lives. This ranges from the local impact of environmental abuses such as dumping toxic chemicals into water systems or air pollution from industrial facilities up to the increasingly frequent occurrence of extreme weather events caused by global warming. Archaeological evidence and computer modelling even support the hypothesis that the sudden demise of the once flourishing Mayan civilization was triggered by human induced climate change.
If you read about our how we began you’ll learn that the organisation was founded on one industrialist’s regret. But since then it has been passionately led and operated by people who care about people, and who understand that systems on our planet aren’t isolated. For the most part we are scientists or other professionals with an interest in science and the environment. We know that altering any individual system can have a widespread and potentially devastating impact. We also know that expanding our knowledge about how these systems work and our impact on them is crucial.
Space based research is emerging as a titanic step forward in this field. Both the kinds of and sheer amounts of data which can be collected from space dwarfs what has previously been possible. To put this in context, consider NASA’s Aquarius satellite. In its first two months of operation it gathered more ocean salinity data than had been collected in the previous 125 years of such measurements. Research in a range of disciplines is also producing some fascinating results under low gravity conditions.
For these reasons we are wholly committed to the ACROSS project and look forward to the advances that will come of it.
How we began
The Milesham Organisation was founded in 1892 following the death of Sir Charles Milesham. Having earned a sizeable fortune from a portfolio of factories during the height of the second industrial revolution, Charles had a healthy appreciation for science and technology. During his final years that appreciation extended to some of the earliest theories about what we now refer to as climate change. Regretful over the likely harm his factories had caused, he bequeathed his fortune to the trust which established our organisation.
Charles Phillip Milesham was born in 1826 in London. Like many children of the time he worked in factories from a young age but unlike most, by dint of hard work, cleverness and good fortune, he would eventually come to own one. Then later more. In time growing into an impressive industrial empire.
Sadly his success in business was mirrored by tragedy in his personal life. During one of London’s infamous fogs, thieves using it as cover (a common occurrence) broke into his home and his wife and young child were killed during the robbery. His grief was profound but productive. Charles became a vocal anti-crime advocate and supporter of the fledgling London police force. He donated several properties for their use and made substantial donations to various police charities. Primarily in recognition of these efforts the crown awarded him a knighthood.
However Charles would generally not be well regarded by today’s standards because while he certainly helped the community with his efforts to support the police, he also did them great harm by undermining legislative efforts to curtail industrial pollution. Wealthy, articulate and having the appearance of a benevolent industrialist, he was a vocal and effective opponent of various campaigns to impose restrictions. Industry and his empire continued to grow.
Throughout his life Charles had been very generous towards his siblings. In the case of his sister Millicent that generosity extended to a most precious gift: A university education in the sciences. Of course employment opportunities for female scientists were exceedingly rare but Charles’ support didn’t end with her education. He maintained a modest laboratory for investigating methods of improving his business and Millicent oversaw its efforts. Under her direction it produced a number of profitable improvements in chemical processes and machinery. Charles came to trust and appreciate his sister’s knowledge and expertise.
Millicent never stopped trying to expand that knowledge and over time came to understand that industry was very likely responsible for causing a great deal of harm, not the least of which were London’s terrible fogs. Also crime statistics showing an increase in break-ins during those fogs. So in the kindest manner possible, she presented the evidence to her brother and made him realise - although the words were never spoken – that he had contributed to the death of his wife and child. Probably also many others.
A much older and less energetic man now, Charles felt a terrible weight of responsibility but could not deal with a problem of this magnitude or complexity. So he didn’t try to. Not personally. He retired, sold his factories and enjoyed his remaining years in comfortable wealth. Instead he bequeathed his fortune to a charitable trust to fund research on the impact of human activities and industry on the natural environment.