"Science is more essential for our prosperity, our security, our health, our environment and our quality of life than it has ever been." So said President Barack Obama in a speech at the National Academy of Sciences, a society of scientists and engineers that provides advice to the U.S. government on science and technology issues.
In an effort to meet present and future demands for better medicine, clean energy, and a safer environment, President Obama has announced a significant increase in federal funding for physical sciences as a portion of U.S. gross domestic product.
"The fact is an investigation into a particular physical, chemical, or biological process might pay off for a year, or a decade, or not at all," said President Obama.
That's why government investment in scientific research is necessary, because while the risks may be large, so are the rewards for the economy and society.
The need for energy looms large not just for America, but for the world’s major economic powers. Energy, said President Obama, “is this generation’s great project.”
That’s why President Obama has proposed a U.S. goal to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by roughly eighty percent by 2050. The U.S. will fund the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy, which will be charged with doing high-risk, high-reward research. The goal is to make renewable energy a profitable kind of energy.
Many of the challenges that science and technology will help solve are global, requiring that scientists in the U.S. work with their counterparts in other countries. Common challenges include the consequences of climate change, the threat of epidemic disease, and the spread of nuclear weapons.
"Science, technology and innovation proceed more rapidly and more cost-effectively when insights, costs, and risks are shared," said President Obama. "That is why my administration is ramping up participation in and our commitment to international science and technology cooperation across areas where it is clearly in our interest to do so."