Restoring science to its rightful place
They were the words that scientists everywhere wanted to hear and President Obama couldn't have been clearer, promising to "restore science to its rightful place"...
They'll welcome too his pledge to "roll back the spectre of a warming planet".
For scientists, neither will come a moment too soon. Scientists and engineers feel they need all the support and inspiration the new president can spare them. They will play a vital part in helping Obama to keep another promise he made today, to "harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories".
Quite a change in tone from the past eight years.
During the Bush presidency, the world saw the Arctic ice cap shrink to a record summer low, the relentless rise of greenhouse gas emissions, and warnings from scientists shift from urgent to panicky.
President Bush came to power at the start of a new decade, a new century and what many thought would be a new era for science. The news that scientists had pieced together an early draft of the Human Genome had given a palpable lift to the end of the Clinton presidency.
Science was riding high...
But in climate change and other key challenges of science, Bush wouldn't listen to the scientists. He didn't like their view of the world, and he didn't like what they were saying.
Religion, or at least the religious vote, informed Bush policy... His very public distaste for stem cell research mattered because it raised public suspicion of science. Creationism has grown stronger, to the point that more Americans now believe in biblical creation than evolution.
There was plenty of "God" in today's inaugural speech...
"God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny", Obama said.
But there was reference too to non-believers. And if he really does raise science back to its proper place in society, he will help to restore confidence among scientists as much as for the whole of American society. Scientists have grown used to attempts to silence them. Now, they're speaking out again. Unlike economic recession and wars - which pass, they say - climate change does not. And there are deadlines if we want to avoid a point of no return.
Just last week a Nasa scientist, Jim Hansen, whom Bush had tried to silence in the past warned that Obama has just four years to save the world. But unlike Bush, Obama does listen to scientists. He's already promoted many to top advisory positions... crucially on energy policy.
There's some squabbling over whether cap-and-trade or a carbon tax is the best way to cut greenhouse emissions, but at least the Obama team agrees on the goal.
For some, the coincidence of the recession and Obama coming to power could truly prove to be the world's last, best chance to solve the energy and climate security equation in a way that avoids destructive changes in global temperatures. He inherits a unique opportunity.
And this year, of all years, leadership matters, because the world hopes to thrash out a global deal to cut emissions. If Obama does stick to his promises on energy efficiency, renewables, carbon capture and storage and hybrid vehicles, he will have acted to ensure that the recovery, when it comes, isn't stalled as soon as it starts by a rapid raise in oil prices. And he will have helped in no small part to loosen the grip that fossil fuels hold on all our lives.
Here's the video essay, filmed at the Temperate House, Kew Gardens