John Holdren at AGU: "No President Has Ever Talked as Much About Science, Technology, and Innovation as This President Has”

By Chris Mooney | December 13, 2010 5:39 pm

john-holdren-state-climate-scienceI just attended the president’s science adviser’s science and policy keynote here at AGU in San Francisco. So did several hundred other people.

Interestingly, some news was made–sort of. Holdren announced that with regard to the long awaited scientific integrity guidelines his office was tasked to produce in early 2009…guidelines he’s been criticized for not yet releasing….he’s almost there and they should be out this month.

To quote Holdren, producing the guidelines–to cover scientific integrity practices across agencies of the U.S. government–“has been a more challenging task than expected, it has taken much longer than it was supposed to.” Holdren continued by stating that he had hoped to announce the guidelines in his AGU talk but “didn’t quite make it–but we are very close.”

How close? Holdren’s powerpoint put up the date “12-10” for their release–e.g., this month. I’m sure that will be a relief to many.

Besides this nugget, Holdren’s talk was basically a vast compendium of all of the things the administration is doing to promote science and its relation to policy. And it really is quite a set of accomplishments (the integrity guidelines problem notwithstanding). Listening to it all inspired me to write a longer post comparing Obama-Holdren with Bush-Marburger, so stand by for that.

For now I’ll leave you with what was arguably Holdren’s most striking quote about Obama and science: “No president has ever talked as much about science, technology, and innovation as this president has.” Or as Holdren closed his talk, the “lynchpin” to having science positively impact the country is “a committed president. And fortunately, we have one.”

I’ll have more on Holdren’s talk soon.


Comments (8)

  1. NYCsci

    What everyone in the audience really wanted to know was, will Obama fight for increased science funding or will he cave?

  2. No doubt that President Obama has talked quite a bit about science and technology.

    Talking is not doing, though.

    The eruption of know-nothings (Tea Partying “libertarians”, SoCons) during the time of this administration demonstrates that talking about science and technology is insufficient to change society.

    Furthermore, like so many politicians President Obama uses “technology” as a substitute for “magic”, a substitution that is so common in our nation’s public comments whether government or industry.

  3. For whatever reason, with all the words about science, this president has yet to use his bully pulpit to make the case of action regarding climate change.

    When Holdren can assure us that this will happen, I will be more than willing to listen.

  4. Andy

    holdren was in a tough spot here. a super knowledgeable group with specific issues that are atypical (e.g., questions about exporting seismographs). he can’t say much of interest. a blah talk for sure. bush’s sci adv spoke here a few years back and that was even worse. i’d rather have you, chris, kick off agu’s sci policy talks!

  5. What everyone in the audience really wanted to know was, will Obama fight for increased science funding or will he cave???

  6. Matt B.

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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.


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