Fresh Scientific Agenda for the US as Obama takes Office

Scientists have high expectations for future scientific and environmental policy as President-elect Barack Obama is sworn in as America’s 44th president later today.

The Bush administration has had a somewhat turbulent relationship with the scientific community over the last eight years, attracting serious criticisms for restricting federal funding for research and their decisions regarding global warming and stem cell research. Obama, on the other hand, has put scientific and environmental issues at the top of his agenda.

In a weekly radio and video address he stated that science “holds the key to our survival as a planet, and our security and prosperity as a nation… It’s time we… worked to restore America’s place as the world leader in science and technology.” Since then, he has pledged to reverse Bush’s funding limits, and appointed a team of well respected scientists, which has heightened expectations for what actions he will take once he is sworn into office.

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest changes will be the United States policy on climate change. Since his election, Obama has repeatedly indicated he wants to fulfill his campaign promise to create a low-carbon economy and create jobs by investing in renewable energy.

In a speech made at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, Obama said his administration hoped to double the production of renewable energy over the next three years while boosting energy efficiency in 10 million homes (1.6% of US housing) and more than 75% of federal buildings. This will require a well-organized, massive injection of funds. Hopefully, worries that America will not be able to afford to convert their promises into a reality in the prevailing economic climate will remain unfounded.