Along with running the free world, President Barack Obama has spent the past seven years guiding U.S. science and technology policy. The initiatives and goals he puts in place—in clean energy, space, medicine, education, nanotechnology, and more—help direct research, which in turn directs the future. With one year left in the Oval Office, the president talks about what he’s achieved, what’s left to do (a lot), and why being a nerd is one of the best ways to serve your country.By Cliff Ransom Photography by F. Scott Schafer
Popular Science: You have been a very pro-science president. Why do you see science and technology as being so important?
F1R0220 Savannah Mujer Tacón Cuña Baja Tira en Tobillo Negro Tostado,Ipanema Women's Anatomica Brillant Plastic Flip Flop Bronze Rose-Bronze-3 Size 3,Venta Mujer Savannah Collection Plano Sandalias de Tiras con Hebilla 00061,New Women Satin Open Toe Bow Tie Footbed Slide - 17853 By Qupid Collection,High wedge pink size 6 By Very peep toe summer holiday,Fashion Summer Women T-Strap Beach Shoes Beaded Flat Sandals Wedge Ankle Strap,Gentleman/Lady Flojos Womens Claire Flip Flop Sandals Online Shopping special promotion Global sales,anika58 New Zipper Blink Fashion Colorful Sandals Party Women Shoes Fuchsia 8,Spot On Mesdames PU Animal visage curseurs,Coca Cola Multi Color Striped Ladies Womens M Medium 7 8 Flip Flops Sandals Coke,Mr/Ms Sandalen Größe 40 Ideal gift for all occasions stable quality Explosive good goods,Man's/Woman's Spot On Ladies Heeled Slingback Sandals Comfortable feeling Ranked first in its class Fashion dynamic,Gentlemen/Ladies Ladies Anne Michelle Evening Sandals F10455 quality Environmentally friendly Fashion versatile shoes,Ladies F0R0147 Toe Post Flip Flop Sandals By Leather Collection Sale NowMujer Sabana Negro Puntera Abierta Sandalias Con Tira en Tobillo Estilo: f00052,Wrangler Ladies Red Sandals Size 38 / 5. Good Condition.,Michael Antonio Women's Lolah Dress Sandal Dark Sand Size 5.5,City Shoes Embroidery Womens Sandals Black Floral New Shoes,Ladies Spot On Kitten Heel Sandals Style - F1723Gentleman/Lady Sandalen 38 Many styles New design Various latest designs,SOLDE Anne Michelle l3398 femmes taupe Daim Synthétique 2 "Size 41 (8) black faux leather diamante wedge heel sandals,buffalo London Sparkle Flip Flops Sandals Slides Size 6,Man's/Woman's Claquette Azaleia Pointure 39 Big clearance sale King of quantity TRUE,Ipanema Frauen Flip Flops Pink Groesse 5 US /35.5 EUCandie's Brown Slip On Sandals Shoes Womens Size 8.5,Lucky Brand Women's Black Barry Macrame Thong Cork Flip Flops Size 6.5 M,Sanuk Sz 5 Women's Zebra Print Distressed Yoga Mat Flip Flops As IsSofft Maren Wedge Black Patent Leather Wedges 8,NWT! Montego Bay Omalley size 10 natural ivory high heel platform wedge sandals,
PS: Among your White House initiatives, you’ve focused heavily on improving STEM education in America. What’s your proudest achievement on that front?
BO: There’s a lot to be proud of. We now graduate 25,000 more engineers per year from our colleges and universities than we did when I took office. We’re more than halfway toward our goal of preparing 100,000 new math and science teachers by 2021. We’ve secured more than $1 billion of private investment for improving STEM education, and commitments from college and university leadership to help underrepresented students earn STEM degrees. There’s also something that’s harder to measure, but every bit as important: all the young people, including minorities and young women, who are more excited than ever about pursuing their passions for STEM.
One of the new traditions I’ve started as president is the White House Science Fair. We ought to celebrate science fair winners at least as much as Super Bowl winners. And when young people are excited about science, technology, engineering, and math, that’s not just good for them. That’s good for America. We want the next game-changing industry or life-saving breakthrough to happen right here in the United States.
PS: Do you consider yourself a nerd and, if so, what’s your nerdiest pastime?
Pre-owned: An item that has been used or worn previously. See the seller’s listing for full details and ... Read moreabout the condition
PS: You also put heavy emphasis on developing innovation and entrepreneurship. How do you make Silicon Valley happen all over the country?
LADIES SAVANNAH BLACK & WHITE SANDALS WITH SNAKESKIN DESIGN F10377,vendita da Donna Ease Rip NASTRO sandalo punta aperta " Taupe ",Reef Chanclas para mujer - Stargazer Sassy - Sandalia, marrón, Baya,size 7.5 American Living Adrina Chamoise Strappy Platform Wedge Womens Sandals,Gentleman/Lady Silberne Sandale Gr40 41 economic International choice International big name,White Mountain Eryn Ankle Strap Sandals 551, Black, 5.5 USOriginal Espadrilles String Tongs Orteils Bottines Espadrilles Neuf,Men's/Women's Ladies Spot On Mid Wedge Sandal Various goods Let our goods go to the world business,NEXT LADIES GOLD SPARKLY WEDGE SANDALS SIZE 6,KIDS GIRLS CHILDRENS CORAL PATENT WEDGE SANDALS SUMMER HOLIDAY SHOES SIZES 9-2,Spot On F00051 Donna Rosa Dorato Con bretelline A pieghe piatte Sandali UK3-8,NWT, $65. MSRP, Womens Chaps Rosilla Wedge Sandals / Shoes,Brand New Clarks Red Leather Sandals With Heel,Report Women's Zasha, Olive, 8 M US,Naturalizer Womens Kaye Black Strappy Sandals Shoes 6 Medium (B,M) BHFO 9883,New Chico's Nautical Navy Blue Ivory Striped Bow Jute Wedge Sandals Shoes 7,las señoras Anne Michelle pedrería Sandalia Con Atado Talón Tira (2 colores),Men/Women BCBG womans sandals, Worn Twice, Pretty main category a good reputation in the world Elegant and stable packaging,TEVA MUSH II 2 Thong Flip Flop Sandals CRISSCROSS GREY~NEW With Tags 4198Mr/Ms Scarpe rocket dog zeppa tacco 10 Louis, elaborate Affordable Outstanding style,Yellow Box, Wedge Cork Slide-On Sandals, Pewter Bling, Size 6.5NEW! KAREN SCOTT BLACK PEEPTOE SLINGBACK HEELS SANDALS SHOES SIZE 8M GORGEOUS!!LADIES CAMEL SLIP-ON SMART PLATFORM WORK PARTY HIGH-HEEL COURT SHOES,NEW WOMENS FLAT CHUNKY WEDGE PLATFORM PEEP TOE SHOES SANDALS SUMMER BEACH SIZE,mujer Down To Earth Sandalias LABEL f00049,Alegria Womens Sandals Size 8 / 8.5 Euro 38 Black Patent Leather Bar-101,Man/Woman Marc Fisher Frauen Flache Sandalen Reliable quality real Non-slip,Blue BHS Sandals Size 5 Brand NewMarkus Lupfer PVC Jelly Studded Sandals Size 8 (1011),Women's Crocs Sanrah Beveled Circle Wedge Flip-Flops Summer Pool Beach Size 8w
BO: When it comes to precision medicine, advances in technology, data science, and clinical research are already curing diseases that were once thought to be incurable. It’s entirely possible that a decade or two from now, treatments would be tailored not just to the disease, but also to the individual patient. We’re being careful to protect patient data and to make participants partners in this work. Because if we embrace precision medicine in the right way, the possibilities for better treatments are practically endless.
The BRAIN Initiative is another project whose time has come. Right now, we can identify galaxies billions of light-years away. We can study particles smaller than an atom. But we still haven’t unlocked the mystery of the 3 pounds of matter that sits between our ears. I believe that with America leading the way, we can change that. Hundreds of scientists and dozens of universities, companies, foundations, and other organizations have stepped up to help us tackle this challenge.
PS: You’ve also advocated the development of a private space industry to work alongside and complement government efforts. What is your vision for space exploration and commercialization? Who does what?
BO: I’ve laid out a vision for space exploration where our astronauts travel out into the solar system not just to visit, but to stay. To build a sustainable human presence in space, we’ll need a thriving private-sector space economy. I see the expanding space industry as an addition to, not a replacement for, the extraordinary work of NASA. With industry taking over tasks like ferrying cargo and crew to the International Space Station, NASA can focus even more intensely on the most challenging exploration missions, like landing astronauts on Mars or learning more about Earth and the rest of our solar system.
As we set our sights toward other planets, we can also create good jobs here on this one. American companies have begun to reclaim the lucrative market for launching commercial satellites. That’s just one example of the way that a growing space economy can help American workers succeed.
PS: If you were to end up on Mars, who would you want as your companion: Mark Watney from The Martian, or Ellen Ripley from Alien?
BO: As long as it’s a hypothetical question, can’t I pick both? If I’ve got Matt Damon growing potatoes and Sigourney Weaver taking care of any unwelcome intruders, I like my chances.
PS: It’s been barely two months since a climate agreement was struck in Paris. How do you think the agreement will be remembered 20 years from now?
BO: I believe the Paris agreement can be a turning point for our planet. It’s the biggest single step the world has ever taken toward combating global climate change. When I traveled to Paris at the beginning of the climate conference, I said we needed an enduring agreement that reduces global carbon emissions and commits the world to a low-carbon future. That’s exactly what we achieved.
The American people should be proud because this historic agreement is a tribute to American leadership. The skeptics said that taking action to transition to a clean-energy economy would kill jobs. Instead, we’ve seen the longest streak of private-sector job creation in history. We’ve driven our economic output to all-time highs, while driving our carbon pollution to its lowest level in nearly two decades.
These kinds of concrete steps helped bring more countries to the table. With our historic joint announcement with China last year, we showed it was possible to bridge the old divides between developed and developing nations that had stymied global progress for too long. And that accomplishment inspired dozens and dozens of other nations to follow our lead and set ambitious climate targets of their own.
BO: Before you can solve a problem, you have to understand it. That’s why we’ve fought hard to protect the funding for the U.S. Global Change Research Program, a government-wide effort to help us see what’s happening in the present so we can better predict the future. Thanks to their efforts, our satellites, aircraft, ships, buoys, and terrestrial-monitoring systems are providing indispensable insights and strengthening the models that tell us what to expect going forward.
My administration hasn’t just helped to advance climate science—we’ve also made good use of the results. We used the most up-to-date insights from climate science as the basis of our national Climate Action Plan. And we’ve begun to develop accessible climate databases and tools that help governments, businesses, and citizens protect themselves from the effects of climate change that we can’t avoid.
President Obama, photographed on January 4 at the White House
BO: Fifteen of the planet’s 16 warmest years have come in the first 16 years of the 21st century. The warmest year yet was 2015. The Pentagon is warning us that climate change will threaten our national security by fostering instability overseas. Here at home, we’re seeing longer and more dangerous wildfire seasons, coupled with devastating droughts. Last year I visited Alaska, where towns are literally being swallowed up by rising sea levels. Miami now routinely floods at high tide. So this debate is over. The question now is what we do about climate change because there is such a thing as being too late. And I think that regardless of their party, if candidates for elected office want to resign your children and grandchildren to a world that’s broken beyond repair, then there’s simply no way they deserve your vote.
BO: Well, here’s what we’ve done. Over the past seven years, we have transformed America into the global leader in fighting climate change. We’ve set new fuel standards for cars and trucks, invested more than any administration in history in growing industries like wind and solar, taken unprecedented steps to protect our natural resources, and set limits on the amount of carbon pollution that power plants can dump into the air. Most important, we’ve proved that we don’t have to choose between a growing economy and a safer planet for future generations. We can have both.
But in the end, when I think about our efforts to combat climate change, I don’t just think about CO2 emissions levels or degrees of global temperature rise. I think about my two girls, and the grandchildren I’d hope to have one day. I imagine myself pushing a little boy or girl on a swing set, out in the open air, looking up at the sun. In that moment, I want to know that the planet’s going to be in pretty good shape. And I want to have contributed to that.
Because that’s our goal: to leave behind a better, safer, more prosperous world for our kids and grandkids. That’s our most important mission in the time we have on Earth. And after seven years as president, I’ve never been more confident that together, we’ll succeed.