President Obama’s SOTU and STEM

Posted: February 13, 2013 in Events, Funding, Policy, Science, Uncategorized

In case you missed President Obama’s State of the Union speech last night, below are selected portions of the speech where Obama made reference to science and technology. Obama repeatedly highlighted the devastating blow sequestration  would have on the scientific research enterprise. Additionally, he called for increased funding for research and challenged Congress to this goal. I was also extremely excited to hear him not only mention, but make a commitment to, combating global warming. After the sparse references to science funding and global warming during the presidential debates, Obama’s SOTU address last night was a very pleasant surprise! In reality, these are just words, and what we need is action, both on the part of Congress and the President. So, as usual, I urge you to contact your elected officials and explain why cuts to research funding are not the answer to our nation’s fiscal problems. For a full transcript of the speech, go here.

These sudden, harsh, arbitrary cuts would jeopardize our military readiness. They’d devastate priorities like education, energy, and medical research. They would certainly slow our recovery, and cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs.

If we want to make the best products, we also have to invest in the best ideas. Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy. Today, our scientists are mapping the human brain to unlock the answers to Alzheimer’s; developing drugs to regenerate damaged organs; devising new material to make batteries ten times more powerful. Now is not the time to gut these job-creating investments in science and innovation. Now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race.

But for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. Yes, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods – all are now more frequent and intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it’s too late. 

The good news is, we can make meaningful progress on this issue while driving strong economic growth. I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago. But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.

Tonight, I’m announcing a new challenge to redesign America’s high schools so they better equip graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy.We’ll reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers, and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering, and math – the skills today’s employers are looking for to fill jobs right now and in the future.

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