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?
New Men's Blend Flip Flop Sandals Beach Summer Yellow & Blue,A35 Cremena Sparkle Strappy Dress Sandals 565, Nude, 8.5 USBirki's Birkenstock Cordury Mary Jane Clog Sandal Women Size 37 US 6 -6.5 Beige7813900 LSPSA30 Women's Shoes Size 7 M Shimmer Sandals Johnston & MurphyHombre Zapatos sin Talón Trabajo Zuecos Playa Jardín Hospital Sandalia,Mens Croc Crocband II Slide Black Graphite Grey Sporty Slider Sandals Sz Size,Women's FRANCO SARTO Dark Brown Basket Woven Leather size 8 1/2 M 3 3/4" heelCole Haan Red Slide On Air Heel & Platform Sandal Sz 19 8.5-9,Easy Spirit Tan Leather Sandals Size 7,Mr/Ms Ladies Savannah T-Bar Sandals Style - F0818 - D Guarantee quality and quantity buy Various HB1265,WOMEN'S THOM MCAN BROWN LEATHER SLIDE SANDALS SIZE 7 M 2 STRAP ADJUSTABLE CLOSE,MULES CROCS ADARA Choco-candy Pointure W5 (35)Infradito Da Uomo Donna Unisex Sandali Ciabatte Mare Piscina Vari Colori Nuovi,New Men Summer Leather Mule Sandals Casual Flip Flops Sports Size9 10 11 12 13,Splendid Womens Juno Rosegold Thong Sandals 7.5 Medium,Unisex Men's and Women's House Slippers, Black and Brown, Assorted Sizes,Farah Classique Shore à Enfiler Blanc Synthétique Mens Tongs FAR0114 093 M1,36NP7151621LO1 LTSPSA30 Women's Shoes Size 7 M Tan Leather Sandals H.S. Trask,Blush Fur Fluffy Flip-Flop Slip-on Open Toe Women Sandals Flip Flops Size 6,US Shoe Size Men Flip Flops Arch Support Sandals Indoor / Outdoor Slipper BrownMen/Women Ladies Savannah Wedge Sandals Style - F10736 Attractive and durable low cost fine NV1209,Gentlemen/Ladies CL by Chinese Laundry Women's Natti Flat Sandal We have won praise from our customers. Sufficient supply Elegant and solemn NV2344,PINK PATTEN PUMPS, STEVEN ELLA size 8.5,Merrell Women's Kai Air Sandals 9 Blue Turquoise Flip Flops Thong StarfishMan's/Woman's Starbay Women's Lightweight Canvas Thong Sandal Flip Flops, Fuchsia, Size 11.0 Comfortable feeling Modern and stylish fashion a lot of varieties HH1024,adidas Slides Black Synthetic Men Shoes Size 10 Medium (D, M),Gentlemen/Ladies Sandalia para mujer - Blanco Complete specification cheapest Outstanding function,Woman's sandals St John's Bay Size 8-1/2 Medium All Season's and Everyday,New Carlos Womens Brown Ankle Strap Sandals Size 10Man's/Woman's Slazenger Wave Sandal Ladies Athletic Sandals excellent quality Used in durability Outstanding style,
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
|Width:||Medium (B, M)||Brand:|
|Fastening:||Buckle||US Shoe Size (Women's):||7|
|Heel Height:||Flat (0 to 1/2 in.)||Material:||Synthetic|
PS: You also put heavy emphasis on developing innovation and entrepreneurship. How do you make Silicon Valley happen all over the country?
Man's/Woman's Boden Sandals, Size 39 Reliable quality excellent Preferred boutiqueNine West Women's White/Brown Beaded Slip On Felizeol Strappy Sandals Sz 7.5,Gentleman/Lady Ladies Spot On Style F0691 Diamonte Slingback Summer Sandals We have won praise from our customers. At a lower price Extreme speed logistics RG1948,SALE Ladies Unbranded Studded Shower Garden Beach Mules Sandals - F0782,Man/Woman Guess Wedge Sandal Size 9 Comfortable feeling high quality Tide shoes list,Elaine Turner Women's Cork Flip Flop Sandals, Size 10,Finn Comfort Black Leather Ankle Strap Sandals Womens Size 40 D US Size 9 / 9.5,FIONI RED LEATHER WEDGE HEEL SLIDE SANDALS WOMEN'S SZ 8 1/2M,atta-04 Flats Zipper Buckle Sandals Gladiator Party Beach Women's Shoes White,360703 RUST LTSPSA30 Women's Shoes Size 7 M Leather Wedge Sandals H.S. Trask,Men's Leather Luxury Shoes Summer Slippers Beach Sandals Flip Flops New SD032,32 Degrees Mens Flip Flops Brand New Size L,Men's/Women's Womens Sandals *Size 10* black modern durable Ranked first in its class Different styles and stylesSAS Shoes Sandals Capri White Silver 7.5 M EXCELLENT CONDITION,Kelly & Katie Womens Amour Open Toe Casual Slide Sandals Red Size 6.0 IzB1,Men's/Women's Naturalizer Womens Layla Size 8 Mauve Cheap Environmentally friendly classic style,Ladies Beige Sole Desire Wide Fit Wedge Shoes Sandals Size 7,Man/Woman Ladies Spot On High Patchwork Heel Mule - Sandals Good world reputation First grade in its class Human border BG1075,Spot on N0023 jungen-marine Zehensteg Zehentrenner (R12A),Nike Benassi JDI Men's Slide Black White 343880-090 SZ 8-13 Free Shipping,Charles David Womens Ccd-Steeler Black Slides Size 8 (274191)Madden Girl Sabeer Blush Silver Rhinestones Thong Sandal Size 5.5,Womens Mad Love by Madden Braided Sandals NWOB C53,Womens Canvas Shoe Sandal Next Size Pink Vgc3600526X LTSPSA30 Women's Shoes Size 7 M Tan Leather Slip On Sandals H.S. Trask,Man/Woman Indian Ethnic Traditional Handmade Velvet Belly Color Black Party Wear For Women Ideal gift for all occasions First batch of customers Strong heat and heat resistance HB2612,Man/Woman Dr.BRINKMANN herren sandalen Gr 42 Quality queen Online Modern mode,URGENT SANDALE NOIR NOEUD SATIN STRASS P38 NEUVE,Bjorndal "Captiva"Green/Khaki Leather Flip Flop Sandals size 9,Ladies Comfortview two strap maxi sandals. New in box. Black size 8M.,
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.