Dr. Lieberknecht is on the leadership team for the University of Texas at Austin's Planet Texas 2050 research program, which is part of the Bridging Barriers initiative. Planet Texas 2050 is the first in a series of university-wide grand challenges that will tackle some of the most critical problems of our time.
In Texas and elsewhere, the looming realities of rapid population growth and weather intensity mean that the things we rely on to live — water, energy, dependable infrastructure, and an ecosystem to support them — are under unprecedented risk. Here’s why: Texas’ population today is nearly 28 million. By 2050, that number is predicted to double to 55 million, with most people clustered in already-dense urban centers like Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. Limited resources will be in even greater demand. Add to that the environmental stress from prolonged droughts, record-breaking heat waves, and destructive floods, and what we have won’t be enough. That’s our current trajectory, but we can still change course.
Planet Texas 2050 is an eight-year research program focused on finding solutions that will make our communities more resilient and better prepared.