Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Conversation with Dr. William Davis, Director of the Renewal Energy Program, St.Philip's College (9/8/08, 607 Jefferson Ave., Seguin)

Below are some questions I plan to use in my conversation with Dr. William Davis on Monday eve, September 8th at the Sample Society Building, 607 Jefferson Avenue, Seguin:

1. Dr. Davis, you’re Director of Renewable Energy at St. Philip’s College. What is “renewable” energy? I thought that the 1st and 2nd Laws of Thermodynamics indicate that energy cannot be created or destroyed—and that it can’t be truly recycled/”renewed”?

2. Since the advent of agriculture, and certainly after the industrial revolution--and especially during this chemical/electrical/information/biotechnological age--we’ve been using renewable energy in non-renewable ways, and/or using lots of stored non-renewable energy. How do we begin to truly employ renewable energy, in a renewable fashion, at St. Philip’s College?

3. How do we transform communities in Texas, addicted to non-renewable coal and oil and natural gas, to being run on renewable energy? … And doesn’t it take lots of non-renewable energy to build photovoltaic systems and wind turbines, and produce significant amounts of biofuels, including from algae, etc., etc.? Can we really get enough net energy out of renewable energy sources to run our high-input systems?

4. Let’s talk some about how you got into science, and chemistry, and working with sources of energy. What were some of the major events and people that influenced you in your formative years in south Georgia and in your interactions with the Tuskegee Institute?

5. Your father was a friend of George Washington Carver. Please tell us a bit about Carver. What did he develop that could be considered appropriate for use in sustainable communities of the near and far future—across the globe?

6. Doc Davis, you’ve told me some interesting stories about two other giants of scientists/technologists, Thomas Edison & Nikola Tesla, who had a lot to do with the transformed energy—electricity--that we use so much of today. Inform us through some stories about these two folk.

7. Now, … at the University of Idaho in Moscow, you got to know Garrett Hardin. Tell us about this man and his classic paper, The Tragedy of the Commons.

8. I know Paul Newman is your friend. Can you tell some background about how he got involved in “Natural” and “Organics”—and developed a “sustainability mindset”?

9. Talk to us a bit about fuel cells, and why you think hydrogen has a significant role in a sustainable economy. … From where will we get significant and sustainable amounts of hydrogen?

10. Three more questions, if I may, Dr.Davis? … I’ve heard you say we’re going to have to depend more and more on nuclear-fission energy in the future. Could you talk to us about that for a couple of minutes? (And of course you are well aware that my position is that we must reduce our ecological footprint--which would necitate less energy release and transformations by humans, would it not?)

11. Doc, you served in Korea during the Korean War. Would you mind saying a few words about “War and Peace”?

12. Finally, could you say a few words about the wonderful book you’re working on that your brother Ossie had been developing? How might it contribute to “conservation and the development of sustainable community”?

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