Obama worries partisan climate 'not good for science'

Obama worries partisan climate 'not good for science'
© Getty Images

President Obama on Thursday expressed dismay at the state of political discourse in a speech Friday, worrying it was "not good for science."

Speaking on a panel at a conference on science and technology, the president said he was frustrated that provably true facts were now subject to partisan debate.

ADVERTISEMENT

“And one of the ironies of the internet has been the degree to which it’s bringing us unprecedented knowledge, but everything on the internet looks like it might be true,” Obama said during a panel discussion. “And so in this political season, we’ve seen you just say stuff, and so everything suddenly becomes contested.”

“That, I do not think is good for our democracy and it’s certainly not good for science or progress or government or fixing systems,” he continued. “We’ve got to be able to agree on certain baseline facts.”

Obama pointed to climate change as an issue where he felt it was difficult to have a debate rooted in research.

“If you want to argue with me about how to deal with climate change, that’s a legitimate argument,” he said, before saying he was frustrated by conversations where scientific research about the climate seemed to be up for debate.

“You can’t argue with me about that because I can see it and we’re recording it.”

Out on the campaign trail, Republican presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpAlaska Republican Party cancels 2020 primary Ukrainian official denies Trump pressured president Trump goes after New York Times, Washington Post: 'They have gone totally CRAZY!!!!' MORE has cast doubt on climate change.

"The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” Trump tweeted in 2012. He later claimed that the comment was a joke and even denied posting the tweet in a presidential debate.

Obama said that there needed to be a way to process “information that passes some basic truthiness tests.”

“We’re going to have to rebuild within this Wild, Wild West of information flow, some sort of curating function that people agree to,” he added.

He made the comments after speaking at a Pittsburgh conference hosted by the White House and devoted to tech, science and health topics. He used much of his remarks to cement his legacy as a president who has been friendly to the work being done by technologists and scientists across the country.

“But look, I only get two terms,” he said, to disapproval from the crowd. “Which is fine, because the presidency is a relay race. We run our leg, then we hand off the baton.”

“We’re trying to institutionalize the work that we’ve been doing over  these last eight years, but we also want to make sure that these partnerships continue to thrive well beyond my administration,” he said.