What Did Obama Have To Say About Science In His State Of The Union Speech?


Tom Hale


Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist

625 What Did Obama Have To Say About Science In His State Of The Union Speech?
The White House/YouTube

Last night was President Obama’s eighth and final State of the Union address. While the usual chat of nationhood and foreign policy set the tone for the annual speech, Obama made several arresting and exciting references to science.

The speech addressed the United States' advances in science and technology over the past year, along with teasing a handful of new initiatives to support the spirit of science, technology, and the environment.


It’s easy to feel disillusioned with the political hot air blown around the corridors of power. But now with his final days of presidency looming, through his controversial with or without Congress mindset Obama appears to be determined to address the issues he believes in – or perhaps, just the promises he was elected on. One of these is undoubtedly climate change and the environment. But while political promises might come, burn up and fade, it seemed poignant that Obama’s legacy speech so strongly and optimistically stressed the roles of science and technology for the coming years.

You can read a full and official written transcript of the speech over at The White House's Medium blog or watch the full hour-long speech on YouTube, below.

In case you don't have to read or watch the full speech, here are the parts that touch on science, technology or environmental topics:

On curing cancer


“Last year, Vice President Biden said that with a new moonshot, America can cure cancer. Last month, he worked with this Congress to give scientists at the National Institutes of Health the strongest resources they've had in over a decade. Tonight, I'm announcing a new national effort to get it done. And because he's gone to the mat for all of us, on so many issues over the past 40 years, I'm putting Joe in charge of Mission Control. For the loved ones we've all lost, for the family we can still save, let's make America the country that cures cancer once and for all.

Medical research is critical.”

On the progress made with curing AIDS and malaria

“When we help African countries feed their people and care for the sick, that prevents the next pandemic from reaching our shores. Right now, we are on track to end the scourge of HIV/AIDS, and we have the capacity to accomplish the same thing with malaria – something I’ll be pushing this Congress to fund this year.”


On space exploration and the role of private enterprise

“How do we reignite that spirit of innovation to meet our biggest challenges?

Sixty years ago, when the Russians beat us into space, we didn’t deny Sputnik was up there. We didn’t argue about the science, or shrink our research and development budget. We built a space program almost overnight, and 12 years later, we were walking on the Moon.

That spirit of discovery is in our DNA. We’re Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers and George Washington Carver. We’re Grace Hopper and Katherine Johnson and Sally Ride. We’re every immigrant and entrepreneur from Boston to Austin to Silicon Valley racing to shape a better world. And over the past seven years, we’ve nurtured that spirit.”


On climate change  

“Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it. You’ll be pretty lonely, because you’ll be debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it.”

On sustainable energy

“Seven years ago, we made the single biggest investment in clean energy in our history. Here are the results. In fields from Iowa to Texas, wind power is now cheaper than dirtier, conventional power. On rooftops from Arizona to New York, solar is saving Americans tens of millions of dollars a year on their energy bills, and employs more Americans than coal – in jobs that pay better than average.


Meanwhile, we’ve cut our imports of foreign oil by nearly 60 percent, and cut carbon pollution more than any other country on Earth.”

On moving away from coal, oil and “dirty energy”

“Now we’ve got to accelerate the transition away from dirty energy. Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future – especially in communities that rely on fossil fuels. That’s why I’m going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet.”




  • tag
  • climate change,

  • cancer,

  • space,

  • environment,

  • Barack Obama,

  • politics