This section of Graphic Humor in political-economic, national or international issues, are very ingenious in describing what happened, is happening or will happen. It also extends to various other local issues or passing around the world. There are also other non-political humor that ranges from reflective or just to get us a smile when we see them. Anyone with basic education and to stay informed of important news happening in our local and global world may understand and enjoy them.

Farewell!. (CTsT)

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Two teachers have harnessed the power of the sun — and provided an insanely cool science lesson in the process.

Charles Dazzo and Gerard D’Ambrosio serve as the mentors of the Green Tech Team at Staten Island’s Tottenville High School, which built a solar-powered car that scored second place in a national competition last year.

“I’m a firm believer that education — hands-on education — really works very well,” said Dazzo, 64, a social studies teacher.

That’s especially true when the hands-on lesson involves building a futuristic ride that looks like a speedboat on wheels.

Last year, they came close to winning it all at the Solar Car Challenge in Texas. This year, the team of eight kids will enter again, with what they hope is an even faster and more efficient car — one that looks like it came straight out of “The Jetsons.”


While last year’s solar speedster was just a frame, the new one has a sleek, carbon-fiber body, complete with “Solar Pirates” emblazoned on the front bumper. It can travel more than 300 miles on a single charge and reach speeds above 70 mph.

Watch video:

“It’s a beautiful looking machine,” Dazzo said.

D’Ambrosio, 47, an automotive technology teacher, said seeing the students’ finished product on the racetrack is one of the most rewarding aspects of his job.

“The competition for me, is one of the greatest things,” said D’Ambrosio, of New Jersey. “And working with all the kids has been a pleasure.”

Dazzo, who handles fundraising for the after-school program that has about 20 participants, added that Tottenville High is the only city school represented at the elite competition.


“We’re very proud to represent New York City,” said Dazzo, who lives in the Prince’s Bay neighborhood of Staten Island.

For teaching students mechanical, environmental and engineering skills, along with the joy of competition, D’Ambrosio and Dazzo have been nominated for Daily News Hometown Hero in Education awards.

D’Ambrosio, who provides guidance on how to build the car, said several former students have pursued degrees in environmental engineering.


* BY  NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Obama administration unveiled a plan to boost fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks to an average of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016—four years ahead of current schedule and up from an average of just 25 miles per gallon today.


The new standards (pdf) will also impose—for the first time ever—a limit on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles at 250 grams per mile in 2016 under the new proposed rule. (That’s about 5.5 ounces per kilometer, for those of you who like your units mixed differently.)

There are very few vehicles capable of meeting the new standards today, which would mean more hybrids and possibly even electric or other alternative vehicles would have to hit the road within seven years for automakers to comply.

“As a result of this agreement, we will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of the vehicles sold in the next five years,” President Obama said in a Rose Garden speech. In a nod to the concerns of beleaguered carmakers, Obama said, “this rule provides the clear certainty that will allow these companies to plan for a future in which they are building the cars of the 21st century.”

The new standards would avoid tailpipe emissions of 890 million metric tons of greenhouse gases by bringing vehicle emissions down from roughly 400 grams per mile today—the equivalent of taking 177 million cars off the road (more than two-thirds of the entire American auto fleet) or shutting down 194 coal-fired power plants.

In addition, all classes of vehicles—from compact cars to SUVs—will be required to make fuel efficiency improvements: cars will need to go from roughly 27 miles per gallon today to 39 mpg in 2016 whereas trucks jump from roughly 23 mpg to 30 mpg. The program is expected to add roughly $1,300 to the cost of a vehicle, according to administration officials.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also considering creating credits to help meet the standard for the development of additional greenhouse gas control technologies, such as multiplier credits for electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids or additional credits for “solar panels on hybrids, adaptive cruise control, and active aerodynamics,” the proposed rule (pdf) says.

The EPA and the Department of Transportation will team up to craft the details. The rule, if approved, won’t take effect until 2012. The new rule would be a compromise between the administration, the state of California and the auto industry. Carmakers have been waging a legal battle over that state’s tough greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles standards. Under the compromise, California would adopt the federal standards.

“Overall, this bartered resolution confirms the pragmatic approach of the Obama administration to resolving climate change issues,” says lawyer Deborah Schmall of the Paul Hastings law firm, while noting that lawsuits may drag on as the details of the agreement are worked out.

Oh, the fuel savings may be overstated, too, says management professor Richard Larrik of Duke University. He argues that gallons-per-mile is a more relevant measure as it directly corresponds to greenhouse gas emissions.

After all, boosting mileage from 10 to 11 mpg or 33 to 50 mpg saves the same amount of fuel (and therefore CO2 emissions): one gallon of gasoline every 100 miles. “As a nation, they’re asking car drivers to reduce gas consumption by 1.14 gallons per 100 miles and they’re asking truck drivers to reduce gas consumption by 1.02 gallons per 100 miles,” Larrik says. Still, he says, “it’s still a great plan because it is accelerating efficiency gains and because Detroit supports it.”

*  Matteo Natale;  May 19, 2009

The U.S.’s first commercial jet flight powered by biofuel runs one engine on African weed mixed with a smidgen of algae

Continental jet 516—a two-engine Boeing 737-800—completed a two hour test flight out of Houston today with one engine powered by a 50-50 blend of regular petroleum-based jet fuel and a synthetic alternative made from Jatropha and algae.


“The properties of the fuel are fabulous, in fact, the bio part of the blend has a lower freeze point than Jet A,” says Billy Glover, managing director of environmental strategy at Boeing, which is helping organize similar test flights throughout the world. “The fuels we’re testing now have equal or better energy content than the Jet A requirements,” of at least 48 megajoules per kilogram (20,700 British thermal units per pound).

In fact, the alternative jet fuel—known as synthetic paraffinated kerosenes—has as good or better qualities than Jet A refined from petroleum: It does not freeze at high-altitude temperatures, delivers the same or more power to the engines, and is lighter, as well. And the refiners, UOP, LLC, a division of Honeywell, can turn almost any plant oil into the alternative jet fuel. “They’re all the same as far as we’re concerned. We’re feedstock agnostic,” says chemist Jennifer Holmgren, UOP’s general manager of the renewable energy and chemicals business.. “If the feedstock is available, we can process it to make fuels of the same capability.”

For this flight, UOP transformed gallons of oil derived from the seeds of the Jatropha plant—an African weedy shrub that can be grown on land that is not being used for food production—provided by Terasol Energy. The Jatropha oil made up the bulk of the biofuel but 2.5 percent of the blend was also derived from 600 gallons (2,270 liters) of algae oil procured by Sapphire Energy from Cyanotech, an algae grower in Hawaii—the first time such algae oil has been used for flight.

“Crude oil is nothing but algae from 10 million years ago during a great algae bloom that got transported underground and today we call it crude oil,” says Tim Zenk, vice president of corporate affairs at Sapphire Energy. “We take that process and speed it up by 10 million years and produce green crude.”

Of course, making algae oil in any quantity remains a huge challenge, from perfecting the growth of the organism and its oil production to extracting the product in a cost-effective manner. Zenk says the company hopes to produce 300 barrels of oil from algae grown in brackish ponds at its test facility in Las Cruces, N.M., by 2011 and 10,000 barrels a day in five years. It will cost “between $60 to $80 per barrel,” he says. “That’s with very conservative numbers in terms of oil produced per acre.” Companies ranging from Science Applications International (SAIC) in San Diego to San Francisco-based start-up Solazyme are working to produce jet fuel from algae oil as well.

In the meantime, efforts to grow Jatropha—already planted in quantity in Africa and India—may be scaled up, whereas other feedstocks that can be rotated with wheat, such as Camelina—a relative of canola—will play a role. “The way to think about it is that Camelina and Jatropha will be at the correct price point—$80 per barrel or less—within three to five years and algae in eight to 10 years,” UOP’s Holmgren says.

The next test flight—a Japan Airlines flight scheduled for January 30—will employ a jet biofuel made from Camelina supplied by Bozeman, Mt.-based Sustainable Oils, a joint venture of Seattle biotech company Targeted Growth and Green Earth Fuels in Houston. “It’s a nonfood primary crop, can be grown on land that isn’t being used, but it fits with existing farm infrastructure,” says CEO Tom Todaro of Targeted Growth. “If you’re expecting to have hundreds of millions of gallons of jet fuel in the next five years produced from a plant feedstock, it’s almost certainly going to be Camelina.”

That’s because it can be grown on wheat fields that would otherwise be left fallow without harming the soil and in some cases improving it. “You give farmers an opportunity to make money in a year when they weren’t going to,” Todaro says, and the company is already recruiting farmers to grow the crop as part of plans to produce 1 million gallons (3.8 million liters) of the oil this year. “By 2010, at current wheat prices [of $5.50 per bushel], we can supply oil at $2 per gallon [and] … we could make north of 50 million gallons.”

But the commercial aviation industry burns nearly 240 million gallons (945 million liters) of Jet A daily and if oil prices were to approach the $150-per-barrel mark reached last year, the demand for Camelina oil might end up driving farmers to grow less wheat—a staple food crop. “If the incentives are wrong it could displace wheat,” UOP’s Holmgren says. “We don’t want it to be priced above what the price is for food.”

That is why the industry is likely to use a variety of different feedstocks—Jatropha, Camelina, algae and others—to create the jet biofuel, Boeing’s Glover says. “Different parts of the world will source differently,” he adds. “That’s another thing we are trying to do with these flights: show that we can use a variety of feedstocks and still get consistent high quality results.”

In the near-term, the jet biofuel is likely to be blended with the petroleum-based variety, because the biofuels lack aromatics—hydrocarbon rings—that interact with the seals in current engines, helping swell them shut. “We fully expect that the first fuels will be 50-50 blends or less just due to the supply availability and the conservative nature of the industry,” Glover says.

The Continental flight—and the Air New Zealand and Virgin Atlantic flights prior to it—prove that such blends can be effective, or even better than petroleum-based kerosene alone. “We have also found that engines running this mix emit less smoke even than those fueled by traditional jet fuel,” said Eric Bachelet, president and CEO of CFM International in a statement.

And with this Continental flight, UOP has proved that blending the biofuels themselves, in this case algae and Jatropha, works well, too. “We have demonstrated two different fuel feedstocks into the same feedtank,” Holmgren says. “We’re going to use a lot of different feedstocks so if you had to use a different fuel tank for each fuel that would be a big problem.”

Already, the first alternative fuel for jets has been certified for use worldwide by the American Society for Testing and Materials International (ASTM)—coal turned to liquid jet fuel by South Africa’s SASOL. And the jet biofuel made by the UOP process has the exact same chemistry; the flights are designed to gather enough data so that the jet biofuel can undergo certification as soon as the end of 2010, according to Richard Altman, executive director of the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative.

By 2017, the Air Transport Association, a Washington, D.C.-based industry group, hopes to source 10 percent of all aviation fuel from such sustainable plant sources, both to ease the volatility of fuel prices and to cut the emissions of climate-change causing greenhouse gases from aviation.

Boeing hopes to help such biofuels become a “significant part of the commercial fuel supply by 2015,” Glover says. “Three years ago, we started out saying this doesn’t look like it’s possible. But every day we become more and more convinced it’s not only possible, it has huge benefits for industry and the public.”

* By David Biello (S.A., Jan. 2009)

Maybe we’re too hard on Disney. After all, they simply remake classic stories in cartoon form. What’s not to like?

Well, as you’ll see, it all depends on just how much thought you apply to it. Here’s seven pretty terrible lessons that Disney films taught us, whether they meant to or not.

#7.The Lion King: To Be Successful, Sometimes People Got to Die

Simba always knew that he was going to succeed his father, Mufasa, as the next Lion King. But fate liked spitting in poor little Simba’s face, and his dear old dad got trampled to death by wildebeests. Of course, Mufasa’s death was really caused by the evil Scar, Simba’s uncle.

Later, all grown up, he reclaims his thrown and Scar suffers the double whammy of falling off a cliff and getting torn apart by hyenas. So after two particularly nasty and horrendous deaths, Simba finally becomes the lion king.

The Supposed Message:

We all have responsibilities we can’t ignore. And don’t trust that creepy uncle.

The Actual Message:

In order for you to be successful, other people will have to pay. And ultimately, that’s okay, because the ends justify the means!


First you have Scar, who knew he couldn’t be king of the pridelands until that dick Mufasa and his brat son were out of the way. So Scar did away with both of them, killing Mufasa and banishing Simba, and, as a result, he got to be king for a descent amount of time.

Then when Simba started to grow some balls, he took back his throne… but only after Scar himself took a dirt nap. It’s true that Simba didn’t intentionally kill him, but you know who did? The screenwriter. After all, the movie doesn’t end with Simba convincing Scar to renounce his evil ways, or putting Scar in lion jail.

In fact, Lion Jail isn’t even real.

No, the message was sent loud and clear: Simba could not be the true king unless Scar was dead. And they even arranged it so that Simba wouldn’t have any of the pesky guilt that would have come with actually doing the deed himself. Everyone lived happily ever after. Except Scar of course, whose body was slowly pooped out by several hyenas the next day.

#6.Cinderella: Sort of Like “The Secret”

Cinderella is forced by her bitchy stepmother to clean the house from stem to stern every day. The only thing that prevents her from swallowing a bottle of pain killers is her belief that someday her dreams will come true.

One day Cinderella plans to attend a ball thrown by the prince, but the fact that she has a cutthroat bitch for a stepmother completely slipped her mind. She is forbidden from going.


Luckily, it turns out Cinderella has a fairy godmother, who uses her magic to hook Cinderella up with a ride, a beautiful outfit and a pair of what would seem like grossly impractical glass heels. At the ball Cinderella uses her innate flirting skills and rocks the prince’s world, to the point that the next day the prince whisks her away to be his princess.

The Supposed Message:

Dreams do come true!

The Actual Message:

If you wait around long enough, the universe will practically hand stuff to you.


“Could you fix my credit score while you’re at it?”

No one is denying the fact that Cinderella’s life was one big shit stain. But in her state of mind, she actually thought that her dreams would just sort of happen if she sat around being miserable long enough. It never occurred to her that she had the ability to just tell her stepmother to go fuck herself.

Instead she kept scrubbing floors and believing that, if she continued to wish very hard and take absolutely no action, everything would fall into place. And what do you know, the bitch gets a fucking kingdom out of it.

So don’t worry, girls. Some kind of “Fairy Godmother” will sweep into your life at any moment, and find you a man to take care of everything. Just keep wishing!

#5.The Little Mermaid: A Little Deal with the Devil Never Hurt Nobody

A little mermaid named Ariel, who is presumably little in title only since she has one impressively big rack, dreams of living her life on shore and finding her true love. Well, a clearly evil sea-witch named Ursula offers to give the naive mermaid legs in exchange for something she probably might need in the future: her voice.

When Ariel makes it to shore, she realizes the Sea-Bitch screwed her, as her legs work with the grace of a drunken paraplegic and she can’t speak. So now she must somehow make Prince Eric fall in love with her while appearing to be either mute or retarded.

By some miracle, the prince takes the bait (again, note the rack) but then Ursula, who in the cartoon seems to be portrayed as a black drag queen, goes after the couple. The prince is forced to kill Ursula by stabbing her with a ship. As a result, Ariel gets both her legs and her voice.

The Supposed Message:

True love conquers all!

The Actual Message:

A little compromise with evil is okay, as long as everything works out okay in the end!

Ariel loved to sing, and she sang pretty damn well. But she wanted to live on shore and find love so bad that she made a “deal” with a “devil” and “sells” her beautiful voice, or “soul” so to speak.


And guess what? It worked. Sure, the writers threw in some complications in the form of Prince Eric having to send Ursula straight to Disney Hell, but the fact of the matter remains that Ariel would never have gotten to meet Prince Eric at all had she not compromised with the evil queen in the first place. She made a figurative deal with the devil, got everything she wanted and came out completely unscathed.

So keep that in mind if you have to, say, sleep with some dude to get that acting role. None of that will matter once you achieve your dreams!

#4.Beauty and the Beast: Just Because He’s Abusive, Doesn’t Mean He’s Not a Really Good Guy

After a spoiled prince pretty much tells an old beggar woman to fuck off, he is transformed into a beast, as it turns out the beggar is an enchantress. And she makes it very clear that until he learns to love and thus is loved in return, there will be no ladies in his life and it’s just going to be him and his hand for a very long time.

As luck would have it, there happens to be a woman out there named Belle with a heart big enough to share with unfortunate-looking people such as the Beast, and she’s not too bad to look at either. When her father is kidnapped by the Beast, Belle offers herself in exchange for his freedom.


Against all odds, they fall in love. The townspeople snap and try and kill the Beast, but because Belle admits she loves him, the Beast turns back into a man and the two live happily ever after.

The Supposed Message:

Treat others the way you wish to be treated!

The Actual Message:

Underneath the abusive exterior of your man is a loving heart he’s just dying to share with you.

First of all, Belle was a prisoner in the Beast’s fucking castle. Nothing says “I love you” like house arrest. Secondly, he wasn’t exactly whispering sweet nothings in her ear. The Beast hurled insults at Belle at every chance, and came close to pimp slapping the shit out of her on more than one occasion.

But she ignored all that unimportant trivia, because the Beast had a loving heart! Sure he gets angry sometimes, but that’s just how he is. And, in the end, he turned back into a sexy, romantic prince. It’s all good now.

Her patience paid off, girls, and it will for you, too! If you just stick with it and don’t judge your man too harshly. Or call the cops.

#3.The Hunchback of Notre Dame: The Ugly Dude Never Gets the Girl


Quasimodo is born with a hunched back and a face that only a mother could love. Too bad his mother gets killed by an asshole named Frollo.

Quasimodo moves into the bell tower of a cathedral and becomes the hunchback of Notre Dame. He then winds up in a love triangle with the lovely gypsy Esmeralda and the aforementioned Frollo.

When spurned by the girl, Frollo tries to burn Esmeralda at the stake. Quasimodo rescues her and, after that, the twisted, malformed freak is able to freely go out in public without people pointing and shaking their fists at the sky in reaction to God’s twisted design. Quasimodo and Esmeralda get married and… oh, wait, no. She winds up with some other dude.


“The order goes: handsome guy, then the goat and then you, Quasimodo.”

The Supposed Message:

Don’t judge a book by its cover!

The Actual Message:

Ugly guys don’t get the girl, even if they’re devoted and awesome. That’s just how it works, sorry.

From the first moment Quasimodo laid his misshapen eyes on her, the poor dope was madly in love with Esmeralda. They seemed destined for each other. French society had given both of them the middle finger, and they both liked sticking it to Frollo.

But just as Quasimodo was starting to feel good about himself, Esmeralda meets another guy: the dashing and completely non-deformed Captain Phoebus. And who in their right mind would pass up tall, dark and handsome for short, pale and abominable?


Quasimodo ended up alone while Phoebus and Esmeralda made some sweet, sweet gypsy magic. So for you hideous guys out there, true love and heroism is great and all, but at the end of the day, we just can’t have you infecting the gene pool.

#2.Sleeping Beauty: If a Guy Saves Your Ass, it Belongs to Him


There’s always that one person who wasn’t invited to the party for very good reasons, but feels they are entitled to show up anyway. The party crasher in this Disney movie happens to be a very powerful, very evil fairy named Maleficent who curses the birthday girl, Princess Aurora, to prick her finger on a spindle of all things and, well, die.

Suddenly, the music stops with a needle scratch and there’s an awkward silence as the evil bitch makes her exit. However, a fellow party-going fairy counteracts the curse by blessing the princess, saying that the princess will instead merely fall asleep until a prince–and she means any prince–comes along and pretty much date rapes her.


“Man, if any of you were princes, I’d totally be giving it away for free, straight up. You don’t even know.”

Sure enough, Aurora falls asleep. But then Prince Philip (who has been stalking the princess) kills Maleficent, then kisses the princess and probably enjoys a grope fest, which will remain the prince’s little secret and Aurora’s repressed memory as they live happily ever after.

The Supposed Message:

True love will conquer all!

The Actual Message:

That guy who comes along and saves you from a crisis? Marry him! He’s the one!


“Let’s just skip to the vows, I’m in a hurry.”

When a rational woman wakes up to find a man practically on top of her, their first instinct would be to reach for the mace. Not our princess; she basically didn’t know his ass from Adam, but she went ahead and married the guy. One kiss at the right time, and she knew she had found Mr. Right.

You may notice that this winds up as the exact polar opposite of the Hunchback of Notre Dame lesson, taken so far in the other direction that it winds up being even more wrong. Never mind that “compatibility” stuff and the all the time it takes for most folks to find out if they have it. If you’re in a tough spot and a handsome guy saves the day, you instantly belong to him. Forever and ever!

Though we guess it only works if you’re not a hunchback.

#1.The Fox and the Hound: Sometimes People Are Different, and That’s Awful


After his mother gets capped and is presumably turned into a tasteful wall ornament, a little fox named Tod is taken in by an old woman to be raised on a farm. Tod eventually meets a hunting dog named Copper and the two hit it off.

Tod thinks the two will be friends forever, but over the winter Copper leaves on a hunting trip, and when he returns he’s a full fledged fox-killing machine. When Tod goes to see Copper, he is attacked by Chief, Copper’s mentor. Chief gets injured, and Copper makes it his mission in life to see former friend Tod meat packaged.


Eliminate on sight.

Copper and his owner eventually find Tod and try to take him down. When a bear jumps into the fight, Tod saves Copper and his owner. So they decide to call a truce, and the two go their separate ways.

The Supposed Message:

Even though we’re different, we can still get along.

The Actual Message:

And by “get along” we mean “don’t kill each other.” We certainly do not mean “live together.” Don’t be silly, you belong to different races!


Our fox and hound find their long friendship thoroughly obliterated and end up trying to kill each other. Only after the member of the pursued and persecuted race does a favor for his oppressor (when the hunted saves the hunter’s life) does the hound grant the fox permission to continue living.

But not as equals; the hound returns to his home with the humans and the fox returns to the wild.

That is how we will heal our racial and socioeconomic differences: by separating ourselves. If only we could institute some kind of “segregation” where all of us could be with our own kind, none of this unpleasantness would happen.

Thanks for showing us the way, Mr. Disney!

By Mackenzie Beverly

FOR the American automobile industry, the years since the glory days of the 1950s and ’60s have been a period of decline. Ever since the oil crises and the Japanese import invasion of the 1970s, the automakers have repeatedly flirted with financial ruin.


They stayed afloat, at times quite profitably, by shifting their focus to sport utility vehicles and big pickup trucks, which indulged the desires of consumers for larger and more powerful vehicles. They deluded themselves into thinking they had created a successful strategy, when what they had really created was a protected and precarious perch.

Bankruptcy, then, might be well deserved, were it not for the risk of the complete collapse of the companies. The industry must be bailed out by the federal government. There are hundreds of thousands of jobs at stake, and a strong domestic manufacturing sector is important for security reasons.

Scarce American dollars, however, must be invested in the larger public interest. The best bailout is one that weans us off oil and sets us on a path to reduced carbon emissions. Congress and President-elect Barack Obama are not qualified to protect shareholders’ interests, nor can they build a better car. But they can ensure that society benefits from our investment in the automobile industry.

One way to do that would be to establish a price floor of $3.50 per gallon on gasoline. If the price drops below that, as it recently has, the federal government would impose a variable tax to bring the price up to $3.50. If the price goes above $3.50, then the tax disappears. The money raised by the variable tax would be used, at least in the short term, to provide loan guarantees to the auto companies. (To ease the burden of higher gasoline prices on low-income taxpayers, some of the revenue would be provided to them as tax credits or vouchers.)

A price floor for gasoline would ease the bailout’s burden on taxpayers. At current prices, a floor of $3.50 per gallon would generate more than $17 billion in one month — a big chunk of a $25 billion bailout. If, without the floor, gasoline averaged $2.50 per gallon over the next year, revenues would amount to $140 billion. That money could pay for a sound transportation policy agenda beyond the bailout.

To receive some of the money raised by this tax, the car makers would be required to produce large numbers of affordable, durable, safe, fuel-efficient, low-carbon vehicles within the next five years. They would also have to relinquish their fight against California’s clean car standards and accept national greenhouse gas standards for vehicles. The companies should also be required to sell a certain number of near-zero emission cars — electric, plug-in hybrids and fuel-cell vehicles.

The $3.50 price floor for gasoline would help sell these fuel-efficient cars. The higher the price of gas, the greater the demand for Detroit’s new, improved fleet. The price floor could be indexed to inflation, so that it rises over time, and it could be applied to diesel fuel, to avoid a widespread substitution from gas to diesel. A comparable price floor for oil could be calculated, to reduce the risk of manipulation of crude pricing.

The declining fortunes of the domestic automakers have paralyzed energy and environmental debates and stymied oil and climate policy for more than a generation. We’ve been down this road before. In 1980, Chrysler was reported to be within hours of bankruptcy, and Congress bailed out the company with $1.5 billion in loan guarantees and a package of concessions — from lenders, unions and others — worth billions more.

This time, the government has to be smart, steering the country to a more sustainable future.

Daniel Sperling, the director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis, and Deborah Gordon, a transportation policy consultant, are the authors of the forthcoming “Two Billion Cars: Driving Toward Sustainability.”


For all the support that the presidential candidates are expressing for renewable energy, alternative energies like wind and solar are facing big new challenges because of the credit freeze and the plunge in oil and natural gas prices.

Shares of alternative energy companies have fallen even more sharply than the rest of the stock market in recent months. The struggles of financial institutions are raising fears that investment capital for big renewable energy projects is likely to get tighter.

Advocates are concerned that if the prices for oil and gas keep falling, the incentive for utilities and consumers to buy expensive renewable energy will shrink. That is what happened in the 1980s when a decade of advances for alternative energy collapsed amid falling prices for conventional fuels.

“Everyone is in shock about what the new world is going to be,” said V. John White, executive director of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technology, a California advocacy group. “Surely, renewable energy projects and new technologies are at risk because of their capital intensity.”

Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain both promise ambitious programs to develop various kinds of alternative energy to combat global warming and achieve energy independence.

Mr. Obama talks of creating five million new jobs in renewable energy and nearly tripling the percentage of the nation’s electricity supplied by renewables by 2025. Mr. McCain has run television advertisements showing wind turbines and has pledged to make the United States the “leader in a new international green economy.”

But after years of rapid growth, the sudden headwinds facing renewables point to slowing momentum and greater dependence on government subsidies, mandates and research financing, at a time when Washington is overloaded with economic problems.

John Woolard, chief executive officer of BrightSource Energy, a solar company, said he believed the long-term future for renewables remained promising, though “right now we are looking at tumultuous and unpredictable capital markets.”

Venture capital financing for some advanced solar projects and for experimental biofuels, like ethanol made from plant wastes, is drying up, according to analysts who track investment flows.

At least two wind energy companies have had to delay projects in recent days because of trouble raising capital. Several corn ethanol projects have been delayed for lack of financing in Iowa and Oklahoma since last month, and one plant operator in Ohio filed for bankruptcy protection last week.

Tesla Motors, the maker of battery-powered cars, recently announced it had been forced to delay production of its all-electric Model S sedan, close two offices and lay off workers.

Investment analysts say initial and secondary stock offerings by clean energy companies across global markets have slowed to a crawl since the spring, and for the full year could total less than half of the record $25.4 billion for 2007.

Worldwide project financings for new construction of wind, solar, biofuels and other alternative energy projects this year fell to $17.8 billion in the third quarter, from $23.2 billion in the second quarter, according to New Energy Finance, a research firm in London. The slide is expected to be sharper in the fourth quarter and next year.

In the United States, financing for new projects and venture capital and private equity investments in renewable energy this year might still top last year’s results because so much money was in the pipeline at the beginning of the year, but the pace has slowed sharply in the last month.

The next presidential administration, to make good on campaign rhetoric and continue supporting renewables, will have to choose alternative energy over other programs at a time of ballooning deficits. Analysts say that is no sure thing.

“Government funding for renewables is now going to have to compete with levels of government funding in other areas that were unimaginable six months ago,” Mark Flannery, an energy analyst for Credit Suisse, said.

The central questions facing renewables now, experts say, are how long credit will be tight and how low oil and natural gas prices will fall. Oil and gas are still relatively expensive by historical standards, but the prices have fallen by half since July. Some economists expect further declines as the economy weakens.

Wall Street analysts say most utilities and other builders can profitably choose big wind projects over gas-fired plants only when gas prices are $8 per thousand cubic feet or higher. Natural gas settled Monday at about $6.79 per thousand cubic feet, down from about $13.58 on July 3.

“Natural gas at $6 makes wind look like a questionable idea and solar power unfathomably expensive,” said Kevin Book, a senior vice president at FBR Capital Markets.

Government mandates already on the books, including state rules requiring renewable power generation and federal requirements for production of ethanol, ensure that to some degree, alternative energy markets will continue to exist no matter how low oil and gas prices go. But the credit crisis means some companies that would like to build facilities to meet that demand are going to have problems. “If you can’t borrow money, you can’t develop renewables,” Mr. Book said.

Renewable energy now meets 7 percent of the nation’s energy needs, and public subsidies have promoted a leap for several alternative energy sources in recent years.

Ethanol is sold nationwide as a gasoline additive, and federal legislation aims to replace a major share of the oil now imported into the United States with domestically produced biofuels in the next 15 years. Enough new wind power was installed in the United States to serve the equivalent of 4.5 million households in 2007, the third year in a row the country led all nations in new wind power.

Renewable energy has become a big business worldwide, with total investment increasing to $148.4 billion last year, from $33.4 billion in 2004, according to Ethan Zindler, head of North American research at New Energy Finance. Mr. Zindler said the upward momentum had halted, and that total investment this year was likely to be lower than last.

In the 1970s, just as in recent years, high prices for fossil fuels led to rising interest in renewables. But when oil prices collapsed in the 1980s, the nascent market for renewable energy fell apart, too. Congress eliminated tax credits for solar energy, ethanol could not compete with cheap gasoline and a wind farm boomlet in California failed to catch on in the rest of the country.

The epicenter of investment and development moved to Europe, with its strong government support for renewables, and began shifting back only when heating oil and natural gas prices shot up again in recent years.

There are some differences this time. Coal, another major competitor of renewables, remains expensive and is facing increasing scrutiny over environmental concerns.

Most important, renewable energy entrepreneurs and experts say, is the growing government and public backing for renewable energy in the United States.

“What is driving the market this time is that we’re at war and this is a security issue,” said Arnold R. Klann, chief executive of BlueFire Ethanol, a California company that is planning to make ethanol out of garbage with the help of $40 million in financing from the Energy Department.

In its recent financial rescue package, Congress provided $17 billion in tax credits to promote various forms of clean power, for everything from plug-in electric vehicles to projects that will capture and store carbon dioxide from coal-burning power plants. Production and investment tax credits were extended for wind energy for one year, geothermal energy for two years and for solar energy for a full eight years.

Meanwhile more than 30 states have enacted standards demanding that utilities generate a minimum proportion — typically 10 to 20 percent — of their power from renewable sources in the next 5 to 10 years.

But some analysts say the government supports may not be enough to propel continued growth for renewables, noting that several states have already relaxed their goals.

“When they can’t meet their targets,” Mr. Book said, “they change them.”

* By CLIFFORD KRAUSS (NYT;October 21, 2008)