Joe Biden was sworn in Wednesday as the 46th president of the United States, in a ceremony administered by Chief Justice John Roberts. Moments earlier, Kamala Harris was sworn in as vice president of the United States, becoming the first woman of colour to hold the office. The ceremony on the West Front of […]Joe Biden Takes Oath as 46th President of U.S.
When I think of the first day of Joe Biden’s presidency, I think of this poster I have in my office. It’s a banner, to be exact and one that has a history that almost went as far back as the presidency of Donald Trump, four years ago. We visited the Wattenmeer region along the North Sea coast in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein during the summer of 2017. Specifically, we were in the Eiderstedt region, where the famous tourist magnet St. Peter-Ording and the tallest lighthouse in Germany at Westerhever are both located. We took a day trip to the Multimar Wattforum just on the outskirts of town along the dike, where one can find one of the largest exhibits of marine and plant life in the Wattenmeer National Park region, as well as the functions of the sea tides (Ebbe and Flut to be specific). At the Wattforum, we were greeted by members of the Greepeace Organization, who talked about efforts to fight global warming, which had been impacting the seas and its marine life at an alarming rate.
After a long hour of conservation and finding out I was American, they offered me the banner as you can see in the picture above. It had an underlying story, which was Trump’s infamous “American First!” theme. On the first day he said it, many countries and even communities tried countering it with “Germany Second!” Even Cologne and Flensburg joined the fray with their own commercial campaign. With the latter, I had posted the video in my column, only to be met with utter disgust from even my Flensburg friends. One of them uttered her famous words on facebook in response to the post: “It’s Embarassing!” In less than 48 hours, the SHZ publishing company based in Kiel took the video off the youtube platform.
Greenpeace stuck with its campaign of Planet Earth First to counter Trump’s message, which although he ignored, it gained some support even from the founder of Fridays for Future, Greta Thunberg. And during the four years of turmoil, where the US exited the Paris Climate Accords and tried to leave the United Nations (the World Health Organization was the starting point), there was still hope among the grassroots that the common person would step up and say no to Trump’s policies of returning to the 1980s normalcy, where coal and nuclear energy is the norm and we have less regulations, especially with regards to the environment. Even people like me, who has held the banner proudly in my office in support of the environment and fighting climate change, had the illusion that change was going to come regardless of attempts to keep the old norm in tact.
And so on this day, when Joe Biden and Kamala Harris take the power of President and Vice President of the United States, I still keep this banner flying high in hopes that the changes we hope for will come true and will be enough to avoid the catastrophic consequences caused by four years of greed, corruption and exploitation. We have a long ways to go, if we look at the record number of forest fires and hurricanes we had last year, as well as the deforestation of the Amazons, droughts in Europe, the melting of permafrost, and lastly Covid-19, which was caused by global warming thanks to the melting perma frost and the unleashing of bacteria and viruses that no human body is immune to. Yet it doesn’t mean it is too late. We acknowledge that global warming is a universal problem that requires a concerted form of action, starting from the top and working our way down to the common person. We also acknowledge that the time to act is right now and it starts with the change in power in Washington.
And so, 2021 is going to be the year of change, no matter how we do it as long as it is now and not never. We acknowledge that the “me”- attitude is null and void. It’s no longer America First, like Trump tried and failed to deliver.
It’s Planet Earth First! If we want to keep our livelihoods, the planet goes first before anything.