On Thursday the Senate unanimously confirmed Jane Lubchenco to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and John Holdren to head the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Lubchenco is a marine scientist whose experience and credibility goes back decades. Holdren is a Harvard University physicist and professor of environmental policy. These confirmations round out Obama’s science team.
And what a team. By selecting such a group of well-renowned scientists and administrators for his key positions - including Steven Chu as Energy Secretary, Lisa Jackson as EPA Administrator, Nancy Sutley as head of the Council of Environmental Quality, and former EPA Administrator Carol Browner in the newly created position of Climate and Energy Policy Advisor in the White House - Obama has signaled that he puts a high value on science. It also signals that he will pursue active policies to address climate change.
Lubchenco and Holdren, along with the others, could play significant roles in shaping the Obama administration’s approach to climate science and policy. Lubchenco has "built an international reputation for her scientific work on marine conservation and climate change and for her ongoing efforts to help scientists participate in public policy debates and communicate their work to the general public."
Holdren has a long history of working on climate and energy policy, clean technology and nuclear proliferation. Over a year ago he gave the prestigious John H. Chafee Memorial Lecture on Science and the Environment at the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE). Called "Meeting the Climate-Change Challenge," Holdren stated:
"We are experiencing dangerous anthropogenic interference by any reasonable definition today. The question now is whether we can avoid catastrophic human interference in the climate system."
He listed three possible policy options..."They are mitigation, adaptation, and suffering. Basically, if we do less mitigation and adaptation, we’re going to do a lot more suffering."
Holdren's full lecture at NCSE can be read here. It's worth the read.
Meanwhile, it's clear that the current administration will place more emphasis on science than his predecessor, with a specific interest in addressing climate change.