Obama Announces Science Team; Restores Cabinet-Level Science Advice

Here's the video from his weekly address:

And the full text can be read here.

There are many gems in here; scientists are going to be beyond ecstatic about this speech, and this team that Obama has named. To me, the newsiest item is that Obama officially says that John Holdren will be "Assistant to the President for Science and Technology." That means the science adviser is being restored to cabinet-level status, as Obama pledged would occur during the campaign.

Another important thing to look for: How soon is Holdren confirmed by the Senate in his role, and officially set to work? I'm guessing that with this crew, it'll be pretty quickly, right after the inauguration. Bush, in contrast, took something like ten months.

And so change begins....

P.S.: If there's anything I'm down about--and it's a small criticism--it's that the Obama science team wasn't rolled out more prominently, or integrated into the environment or national security team, as I suggested here. It's very important that science not be confined or ghettoized in the political arena. But when the president elect tells us that "science holds the key to our survival as a planet and our security and prosperity as a nation," and that "It is time we once again put science at the top of our agenda and worked to restore America's place as the world leader in science and technology," I'm willing to gulp and not demand a press conference.

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Let's not quibble; it's a strong and impressive beginning.
And with that, I wish you and Sheril a very happy, healthy, and fulfilling New Year.

scientists are going to be beyond ecstatic about this speech

Indeed! Christmas has come early!

Relief! The science advisors weren't picked from Liberty University! They weren't interviewed on whether they believe in God, the age of the Earth, or their views on abortion! They weren't required to be family friends of the President!

Have we finally started to reverse our devolution back into the Dark Ages???

I'm pinching myself, hoping this is real...

I'm sure its just a coincidence - but I can't help but notice he announced his science team on the 12th anniversary of Carl Sagan's death.

It's very important that science not be confined or ghettoized in the political arena."

Personally, I think it is good that Obama has done this the way he has.

It lets people know that science is not just another part of of politics and is above the usual hype.

By Dark tent (not verified) on 20 Dec 2008 #permalink

Chris,
I would be curious about your reaction to John Tierney's take on the appointment, here. The climate change skeptics indeed seem pretty dangerous to me, and saying that isn't the same as exhibiting intolerance of dissent, I think, but some of the other concerns seem to raise plausible concerns to an uninformed reader. Thanks.

[[gasp]]

He said happy holidays.

By natural cynic (not verified) on 20 Dec 2008 #permalink