In his inaugural speech we heard Obama say "we will restore science to its rightful place." And on the technology page at the official White House website, for example, you'll find the following:
Restore Scientific Integrity to the White House: Restore the basic principle that government decisions should be based on the best-available, scientifically-valid evidence and not on ideological predispositions.and
Make Math and Science Education a National Priority: Recruit math and science degree graduates to the teaching profession and support efforts to help these teachers learn from professionals in the field. Work to ensure that all children have access to a strong science curriculum at all grade levels.According to one recent (2007) report, U.S. students rank 29th in the world in science, an absolutely abysmal number in my opinion. Interestingly, this number isn't that far off from the U.S. ranking among countries whose populations accept the Theory of Evolution (I'm leaving it at that, because I don't even want to get started on the ol' "6,000 year old Earth/literal interpretation of Genesis" debate).
There are other hopeful signs as well. For example, in a memo to EPA employees, EPA Administrator-designate Lisa P. Jackson states:
Science must be the backbone for EPA programs. The public health and environmental laws that Congress has enacted depend on rigorous adherence to the best available science. The President believes that when EPA addresses scientific issues, it should rely on the expert judgment of the Agency's career scientists and independent advisors. When scientific judgments are suppressed, misrepresented or distorted by political agendas, Americans can lose faith in their government to provide strong public health and environmental protection.That word "science" just keeps popping up. It even came up in a telecast we saw at work the other day from incoming Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.
It really is a breath of fresh air.
The only things I hear that trouble me a little are talk of "clean coal technology", because without much better evidence I don't think coal can ever be clean, and I am not too excited with talk of offshore drilling. But we shall see where that ultimately goes. The rumblings I hear in areas such as alternative energy, better and more fuel efficient modes of transport, improved science education, stem cell research, and countless others, make me feel a little more positive about the future.