Saturday, December 20, 2008

Serious about science

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Here's another indication that Obama is far more progressive than some of his progressive critics -- and, yes, his support for Lieberman and some of his questionable appointments (Gates, Jones, Salazar, etc.) -- would suggest. In contrast to Bush, Obama evidently intends to take science seriously:

President-elect Barack Obama's selection Saturday of a Harvard physicist and a marine biologist for science posts is a sign he plans a more aggressive response to global warming than did the Bush administration.

John Holdren and Jane Lubchenco are leading experts on climate change who have advocated forceful government action. Holdren will become Obama's science adviser as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Lubchenco will lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees ocean and atmospheric studies and does much of the government's research on global warming.

Holdren also will direct the president's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology. Joining him as co-chairs will be Nobel Prize-winning scientist Harold Varmus, a former director of the National Institutes of Health, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Eric Lander, a specialist in human genome research.

"It's time we once again put science at the top of our agenda and worked to restore America's place as the world leader in science and technology," Obama said in announcing the selections in his weekly radio address.

The president-elect said promoting science means more than just providing money, but also is about ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or ideology.

"From landing on the moon, to sequencing the human genome, to inventing the Internet, America has been the first to cross that new frontier because we had leaders who paved the way," Obama said. "Leaders who not only invested in our scientists, but who respected the integrity of the scientific process."

Yes, I equate progressivism, in part, with taking science seriously, though of course it's liberalism that has long been connected to science. Regardless, these are just labels, and it's not just the respect for science here, it's the policy implications of putting science once more "at the top of our agenda." Specifically, Obama signals that he is serious about tackling global warming, developing alternatively energy, and the like.

Liberals and progressives -- and we are all together, more often than not, and the labels are often interchangeable -- should applaud these moves.

Obama is set to take America out of the Bush Dark Ages. Isn't that partly why so many of us supported him?

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