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?
LADIES BARRATTS NUDE HEELS - SIZE 6 " HEELWitch/Halloween/Fancy dress - platform wedge UK5 by Atmosphere Black & gold,Man/Woman Madden Girl Wedges Size 8.5 Brown Economical and practical Won highly appreciated and widely trusted at home and abroad Fashion dynamic,KONSTANTIN STARKE schwarze Stoff Pumps Gr. 38 Absatzhöhe 8 cm,Gentleman/Lady Mujeres sin Cordones Deslizables Sandalias ante Pantuflas Perlas Cuentas Plano Special purchase Known for its good quality Valuable boutique BN3297,Women's Born B72403 Size 8M Clogs Shoes Booties Black Leather Stretch A4Ladies leopard print shoes, M&S, Size 4.5, flat heelBANDOLINO "Twin Sister" Leather HEELS Mules Brown Buckle Strap Size 6 1/2 M,Man/Woman Soft Style by Hush Puppies Angel II Black Womens Shoes 6.5 M Heels MSRP $49.99 Good world reputation Low price Popular recommendation NG484,J.Renee "CLASSIC" Silver Open Toe Studded Emblem Slingback High Heels Sz. 8N,Men's/Women's Size 5 Stiletto Black Shoes Elegant appearance Elegant and sturdy packaging best sellerSheikh Women’s Pumps high heel black with silver studs size 5 1/2,Witch Boots Pointed Toe Buckle Monk Strap Zip Sides Mid Heels Shoes Adult WomenBrand New Womens, Ladies, Black Platform Mesh Shoe With Zip Back, Peep Toe, Size,Talbots Wedge Shoe Size 7.5W Womens Peep Toe Patent Leather Black,Eastland Women's Baylee Peep Toe Wedge Pump Black Leather Size 6.5 M,STYLISH ASH / PALE KHARKI GREYISH SANDALS / GOLD METAL WORK SIZE 6 WORN GOOD CON,Wittner Black Suede Wedges, Size 40. Brand New.,Jummeles High Heels Pumps in wunderschönen Samt Design Gr 38,EUROSOFT Women's Size 10 M Brown Leather Mary Jane Peep Toe Heels,AK Anne Klein Womens Copper iFlex Wet Look Cap Toe Pumps - Size 8M - Q35,Steve Madden Women's Heels P-Kath Burgundy Closed Toe Block Heel 7.5M 4in heelSam Edelman Patti Womens Size 6.5 Nude Open Toed Stiletto Heel X12-1648,Moda in pelle Wedge Espadrilles Size 6/39,New.Belle Woman Sandals.Size (38). Colour Black. 100% Other Material.,Naturalizer n5 comfort slingback heels shoes size 8M snakeskin print work casual,Women's Light Gray (New Display) LifeStride Loafers Sz 8.5N Free Shipping USANew Unze London Womens Velvet New Fashion Court Shoes,Anne Michelle F9914 Ladies Green/Microfibre Court Shoes to 8 (R13A),New In Box Blue, Black & Off White High Heels
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?
New with box: A brand-new, unused, and unworn item (including handmade items) in the original packaging (such as ... Read moreabout the condition
|Heel Height:||Mid Heel (1.5-3 in.)||Sole:||Synthetic|
PS: You also put heavy emphasis on developing innovation and entrepreneurship. How do you make Silicon Valley happen all over the country?
Brinley Co Women's Sutton Pump Taupe Size 11.0 LIWe,New Womens High Wedge Heel Platform Sandals Ankle Strap Floral Print Shoes,talbots Shoe's Slip on Textile/Leather Upper Black Women's Size 6MMan/Woman Nine West Ladies High Heels Pumps, Pink, size:7B, pre-owned Beautiful design Preferred material Quality and consumer first BR1473,Monsoon black high heel peep toes shoes size 6 (39) leather wooden heelNina Open Toe Heel Silver Glitter Size 8 RH 3246,LADIES ANNE MICHELLE - F1R0733 TAUPE SLING BACK SANDAL,MULTI COLOR BUCKLE THICK HIGH HEELS STILETTOS ANKLE STRAPPY OPEN TOE FASHION,I45 NEW Stuart Weitzman Nudistsong Floral Patent Leather Sandals Women's Sz 7 MCole Haan Women's Size 8B Brown Leather Open Toe Heel Classic PumpsGentlemen/Ladies Ladies Womens High Heel Chunky Block Ankle Buckle Strap Sandal Party Shoes Size Elegant shape Reliable performance Seasonal hot sale AN84,Fashion Union Burnt Orange Peepp Toe Sling Back UK Size 5Florsheim Womens Pumps Heels Size 6AA Brown Leather 1950'S Serena Les Regent,VTG Women’s High Heel Shoes / Pumps – Auth J. Renee 8 1/2SALE Anne Michelle F10549 Ladies Nude Nubuck 4" Stiletto Heeled GORGEOUS Sandals,Salvatore Ferragamo Women's Black Leather Slingback Ruby Heel Pumps Size US 7.5,Victoria Spenser Shoe Size 6 Womens Brown Leather Open Toe Pump Heel Trina,Gentleman/Lady Dior Shoes With Heels Size 37.5 elegant a good reputation in the world Tide shoes list,Gentlemen/Ladies Ladies river island shoes size 5 Reliable quality Affordable Brand feastWalking Cradles Women's Heidi Pump, Bronze Metal, 8 M US,Womens Size 8.5 Trotters Leather Slip-On Buckle Toe Design ShoesNEW WOMENS Fuchsia Pleated Satin Slide Shoe from Classique SHOES HEEL SIZE 6.5 WWhite House Black Market Kenzie Women's Bone LEather Strappy Pump Sandals Sz 9 M,Marc Fisher Women's Black Patent Leather Peep Toe Heels - Size 7 M,Black Mary Janes Rhinestones Open Toe Dress Golden Heels Sandals Womens Size 9Men's/Women's WOMENS LADIES BLOCK HEEL ANKLE STRAP WORK COURT EVENING DRESS GIRLS SHOES PUMPS New market Win the praise of customers Current shape BW3425Gentleman/Lady Ladies shoes wholesale Carefully selected materials Global salesChinese Laundry Kristin Cavallari Celestial Pumps Snake Skin Brown Black Leather,Born size 8 M studded plain toe mule heel slip on wedge clogs brown shoes W6232,White TauL Floral Pearl Strap Bridal Wedding Shoe High Heels Flat
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.