As Barack Obama’s presidency draws to a close, his administration is continuing to improve the nation’s apparatuses for assessing and responding to climate change impacts. Recent actions to deepen the connection between climate research and planning include initiating a sustained National Climate Assessment, creating a new public-private climate data sharing partnership, and instructing the government to incorporate climate threats into national security planning.
In a new report, Neal Lane, former director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, is calling on the next president to put a “laser focus” on science and technology early on in the next administration. The report makes five recommendations for the next president and five more for the president’s next science advisor on how S&T policy should be dealt with in the White House.
President Obama will host a White House Frontiers Conference in Pittsburgh in October and guest-edit the November edition of WIRED magazine, both focusing on the president’s five “frontiers of innovation.”
In Part 2 of its report on research regulations, a National Academies committee reiterates its call for Congress to create a Research Policy Board and urges the administration to not revise human subjects research regulations until a new national commission weighs in on the subject. Congress has begun to act on the Research Policy Board recommendation.
In his final State of the Union address, President Obama provided an upbeat vision for the nation’s future that prominently includes American scientific discovery and leadership, also a strong theme of Obama’s past addresses.
Former NASA mathematician and physicist Katherine Johnson, known for calculating historic space launch trajectories by hand and shattering gender and racial barriers in science, received the nation’s highest civilian award.
President Obama signed into law the final 2016 defense policy authorization bill after vetoing an earlier version. The law includes a number of provisions supporting scientific research and collaboration at the Departments of Defense and Energy, including an easing of conference travel restrictions on federal scientists and engineers.
NASA released a unifying vision to send humans to Mars by the 2030s. While the goal has support in Congress and from the White House, securing adequate sustained funding through the next two decades and managing the inherent risks involved in human travel to deep space remain considerable barriers to NASA’s goal.