Fueling Nobody: Amsterdam Sets a Brave Example


There are two ways to persuade people that fossil-fueled cars are a blight. The popular method is to offer alternatives while suggesting why you “really shouldn’t” . And then there’s the other way.

Last week, TechCrunch ran an article suggesting that California was going to ban black cars because they soak up the most heat. The Washington Post got hold of it, then Rush Limbaugh added fuel to the flames (most unlike him, I know)  by advising listeners to buy up black cars before they became extinct. Happily, it’s now clear that TechCrunch got themselves in a muddle, and everyone’s looking sheepish. Such is the Audience Wave nature of online journalism.

It’s not hard to spot the flashpoint here – it’s the word “ban”. It’s a brave government that tries to deny consumers the right to drive their beloved internal combustion vehicles, even if it’s just the black-painted ones…and the TechCrunch furor nicely illustrates how quickly the American public gets shirty when its wheels are threatened.

So let’s imagine that the U.S. decides to follow the example of Amsterdam, which has just announced that by 2040, no petrol-powered cars will be allowed in the city. It’s electric or nothing. That gives the Netherlands 30 years to get its electric vehicle servicing infrastructure up to scratch, which probably isn’t as long as it sounds – and it leaves the door open for other municipal and national governments to peer through, wondering if that way lies popularity or condemnation.

If internally-combusting automobiles went the way of incandescent lightbulbs and plastic bags, how would America react?

Image: Sammmm

Mike Sowden

Mike Sowden is a freelance writer based in the north of England, obsessed with travel, storytelling and terrifyingly strong coffee. He has written for online & offline publications including Mashable, Matador Network and the San Francisco Chronicle, and his work has been linked to by Lonely Planet, World Hum and Lifehacker. If all the world is a stage, he keeps tripping over scenery & getting tangled in the curtain - but he's just fine with that.