Monday, January 21, 2013

Science, climate, and energy in the Inaugural Address

It looks like President Obama returned the science love that NASA has been giving him, although not directly to NASA.  Instead, it went to science education, climate change, and energy research.  Here are the relevant excerpts from his speech as transcribed at the Washington Post.
For we have always understood that when times change, so must we, that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges, that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.

For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future. Or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores.
We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.

Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But American cannot resist this transition. We must lead it.

We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries. We must claim its promise. That’s how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure, our forests and waterways, our crop lands and snow capped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.
As I've written before, President Obama really likes the idea of sustainable development packaged as making America competitive.  I like it even better now that he's tied in fighting climate change to this theme.  This is good news, not only for us and the planet, but for the nation's Democratic mayors, who had a message for the President on the subject, as Reuters, republished in Scientific American, reported.

Mayors focus on "local warming," urge Obama to act
By Valerie Volcovici and Patrick Rucker
January 18, 2013
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Reeling from an historic drought, the hottest year on record and more frequent wild weather, mayors from a number of U.S. cities urged the White House this week to take the lead on setting an agenda to address climate change.

City leaders said that only the federal government has the tools and clout to address greenhouse gases often blamed for warming the planet, while mayors focus on issues of "local warming" such as providing a reliable water supply or protecting citizens during dangerous weather events such as the 1995 Chicago heat wave that was blamed for over 700 deaths.

"We are fixing pot holes, dealing with transit issues," Seattle mayor Michael McGinn said while attending the U.S. Conference of Mayors' winter meeting. "But this can be a top tier issue for the president."
Climate change rated three paragraphs in the Inaugural Address, two more than science education, a known priority for the Administration.  I'll take that as a sign that it is now a top tier issue for President Obama.

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