Monday, December 15, 2008

Obama indicates his clear support for science with Chu as Secretary of Energy

Well, say what you will about Steve Chu, but the fact that Obama has nominated him to be the Secretary of Energy is only a good sign for science and society as far as I am concerned.

It is a good sign for science because it shows explicitly Obama's respect and support for science. Most recent Secretaries of Energy have been non scientists (the #s depends on whether you count an engineer as a scientist - I do - but some don't) and Bush (who I want to say is out previous president but we still have him for another month) does not believe in evidence in any way, let alone science.

It is a good sign for society because it is important for the president to understand and respect science. So - some may criticize Chu for some issues - but none of the criticisms I have seen really hit home with me. Sure, I would like a Biologist in their in the Cabinet, but Chu seems to actually understand that the biological diversity of the planet is under threat from global change and he wants to do something about it. I cannot really ask for much more from a Physicist/Administrator. For full disclosure - I have an Adjunct position at LAwrence Berkeley Lab where Chu just happens to be the Director. So maybe I am not completely objective, but anyway, I think this is a good day all around.


  1. I wholeheartedly agree that the selection of Chu for the post of Secretary of Energy is an excellent choice. However, the continuous ranting about the outgoing president from many in the scientific community is tiresome and starting to sound disingenuous. Even a cursory look at the NIH budget from 2000 to the current budget request, shows that it has roughly doubled. That's pretty healthy growth. In addition, it was Pres. Bush that re-oriented NASA's priorities and missions after years, nay, decades of stagnation. I don't think these can be fairly criticized as "anti-science." To be sure, there is plenty of room to criticize Bush (stem cells and other well documented shenanigans come to mind). I wonder whether these forays and asides into politics is starting to damage the wider public's perception of science as objective and non-partisan...

  2. Anonymous - for years I stayed out of politics almost completely on this blog, to avoid mixing objectivity with politics. But to suggest that somehow the Bush administration has been pro-science is itself completely ludicrous, and not objective. Any reasonable evaluation of the overall picture of the Bush administration indicates that it has been as anti-science as any in recent history, if not ever. And this is not just scientists or democrats saying this but many in the Republican party as well, including McCain and many prominent senators and governors. I agree that scientists should avoid whining and complaining as much as possible. But in this case, there is little doubt that objectivity is on the side of those criticizing the Bush admin.

  3. Is Chu on the board of advisors for PLoS?

  4. I do not think Chu is involved in PLoS but I do not know for sure. I think he was some sort of advisor many years ago, before I got involved. But I have never seen his name on anything.

  5. Eric Lander is now in the cabinet too! Wow! The greatest choice ever. A super biologist. My hero. Obama rocks


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