Ryan Mickle seems like a sane guy. He’s well spoken, intelligent and pretty successful. He’s also environmentally conscious, to the point that he realized he didn’t need his two-year-old Range Rover Sport when his job relocated him to San Francisco.
But that wasn’t enough for Ryan. Tired with what he calls an “incremental approach to addressing climate change,” he wants to make sure nobody else makes the same mistake he did: buying an inefficient car totally unsuited to his needs. A self-professed “believer in the wisdom of the crowd,” he launched onefewer.org to let online voters decide the fate of his car. Mickle promises his gas-guzzler will be taken off the road, never to emit another hydrocarbon.
Unless, of course, the voters decide to set it on fire.
Mickle says his idea is based on crowdsourcing, a term coined by Wired’s own Jeff Howe. Crowdsourcing relies on individual contributions from an undefined group that collectively helps an individual or organization reach a decision or accomplish a task.
In onefewer.com’s approach, online contributors come up with feasible means of permanently disabling the Rover’s internal combustion activities, vote on a best solution and see it happen. The goal, says Mickle, is to take the Rover “off the road forever however the world wants to, and to engage a conversation about the fate of the Range Rover itself and the ass-kicking changes we can make in our lives beyond travel mugs and canvas grocery bags.”
Yes, Mickle realizes the crowd could be full of morons who collectively decide to do something more environmentally destructive with the car than drive it. Driving a pile of chemically-impregnated foam and non-biodegradable plastics off a cliff and into a pristine wildlife habitat certainly doesn’t have a positive short-term environmental impact, and burning the thing would release more carcinogens into the air than any clean turbodiesel.
However, Mickle says his approach “might have greater environmental returns as a result of the changes it inspires in the greater number of onlookers, outweighing any additional environmental consequences.” In other words, the publicity generated by the destruction of the car would lead to a “conversation about the fate of the SUV itself” that might make people think about the environmental impact of their actions, or at least appreciate the proper use of the word “fewer.” Of course, it also might make a lot of people angry and turn fifteen minutes of fame into a night in jail.
It seems almost sinful to destroy such a gorgeous piece of machinery, especially one that remains so useful even with its unnecessary opulence. The Range Rover is no ordinary kludge of an SUV. It’s refined, gorgeous and extremely capable of handling itself in some of the harshest environments even if it is occasionally incapable of getting owners to work without a stop at the dealer.
Though the ’06 Sport is a world away from a trusty Defender in terms of refinement, most of those pictures of the wildlife we’re all trying so desperately to save would never have been taken without the help of the gents in Solihull. Land Rover BMW Ford Tata says their SUVs are “built for purpose,” a premise that Mickle hopes the crowd will take into account. He’s “hoping that the winning idea will be more environmentally conscious but totally out there.”
Let’s hope Mickle’s trust in the free market is well-placed. After all, it was the crowd that decided to use these purpose-built trucks for hauling groceries in the first place.
Mickle plans to consign his Ranger to its fate within a few months. We’ll be there when it happens and let you know how it goes.