Behavioral Shifts, Anyone?

Michael Webber spoke to a UT audience on potential solutions to the energy problem

At the risk of beating people's heads in over the environment, please slow down on the highways and keep your tire pressure where it needs to be – because according to Michael Webber, a UT engineering professor who has made his living on technological breakthroughs, it's officially getting greasy out there, and we can't depend on green technology advances to turn the situation around 180 degrees.

Webber spoke to another sell-out crowd at UT's Welch Hall Friday night about potential solutions to this country's dependence on oil and alternative fuel options for the future.

Look, all the alternative fuels widely reported on have faults. Corn-based ethanol requires as much energy to produce as it eventually yields and may expedite soil erosion. Delivery of mass amounts of hydrogen is inefficient and we can't "mine" all the hydrogen we would need to make a difference in our energy needs. Wind is intermittent, solar power is very land-intensive, and nuclear power could potentially kill us all – so folks, turn a light off when you leave the room. It may be the best shot we have at this point.

According to Webber's data, if America's drivers kept their tires at recommended air pressure levels, we could save 250,000 barrels of oil per day. If the nation scaled back the speed limit to 55 on the highways and drivers obeyed, that's another million barrels per day.

Webber said that industry, for the most part, is ready and willing to do what it takes to scale back on the use of fossil fuel, but that politicians (as per the norm) are bringing up the rear in the urgency department. Aside from screwing us, now they've taken to cooking us.

Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Environment
Mixing Up Your Environmentalism
Mixing Up Your Environmentalism
Plateaued on your earth-friendly efforts? Here are a few ideas to help.

Bonny Chu, Nov. 30, 2018

SXSW Eco 2015: <i>Racing Extinction</i>
SXSW Eco 2015: Racing Extinction
Mass extinction is coming, and we're to blame

Richard Whittaker, Oct. 7, 2015

More University of Texas
College Confessions From the Dorm's Snitch
College Confessions From the Dorm's Snitch
Accidentally hot-boxed, barfed on, a 24/7 buzz kill – RA life ain't easy

Katarina Brown, Aug. 23, 2017

Peter O'Toole Archives Land at HRC
Hello, Mr. Chips
Peter O'Toole archives acquired by UT's Harry Ransom Center

Marjorie Baumgarten, April 22, 2017

More by Matt Martinez
ICE Draws Cool Reception in Austin
ICE Draws Cool Reception in Austin
Immigration comes calling at the jailhouse

June 13, 2008

George H. W. 'The Dude' Bush
George H. W. 'The Dude' Bush
Do the foreign policy debacles of Bush 43 rehabilitate the career of Bush 41?

April 4, 2008


Environment, University of Texas, Oil, Michael Webber

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle