Monday, April 27, 2009

Obama: “We are restoring science to its rightful place”

Today, President Obama addressed the annual meeting of the US National Academy of Sciences. If you have not heard this speech or read the transcript, I encourage you to do so—it was not only excellent, but inspiring. The key message of that speech is given in the blog title above.

Here are a few excerpts:

“At such a difficult moment, there are those who say we cannot afford to invest in science, that support for research is somehow a luxury at moments defined by necessities. I fundamentally disagree. Science is more essential for our prosperity, our security, our health, our environment, and our quality of life than it has ever been before.”

“And we have watched as scientific integrity has been undermined and scientific research politicized in an effort to advance predetermined ideological agendas.”

“So I’m here today to set this goal: We will devote more than 3 percent of our GDP to research and development. …… This represents the largest commitment to scientific research and innovation in American history.”

“So we double the budget of key agencies, including the National Science Foundation….”

“Under my administration, the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over. Our progress as a nation –- and our values as a nation –- are rooted in free and open inquiry. To undermine scientific integrity is to undermine our democracy. It is contrary to our way of life.”

“We also need to engage the scientific community directly in the work of public policy.”

“In environmental science, it will require strengthening our weather forecasting, our Earth observation from space, the management of our nation’s land, water and forests, and the stewardship of our coastal zones and ocean fisheries.”

“And so today I want to challenge you to use your love and knowledge of science to spark the same sense of wonder and excitement in a new generation.”

"...will create research opportunities for undergraduates and educational opportunities for women and minorities who too often have been underrepresented in scientific and technological fields, but are no less capable of inventing the solutions that will help us grow our economy and save our planet. "

“And some truths fill us with awe. Others force us to question long-held views. Science can’t answer every question, and indeed, it seems at times the more we plumb the mysteries of the physical world, the more humble we must be. Science cannot supplant our ethics or our values, our principles or our faith. But science can inform those things and help put those values — these moral sentiments, that faith — can put those things to work — to feed a child, or to heal the sick, to be good stewards of this Earth.”

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