And so the calendar swings again to its annual endpoint and that single tick of the clock that divides all that was from what comes next. It's a new year, and amidst all the toasts and remembering, all the introspection and resolve, here is what I wish for it.
I wish for passage of the Safe Chemicals Act. For years, it's been on the fast track to nowhere while the law it would replace, the ancient Toxic Substances Control Act, does an abysmal job of protecting public health from chemicals of concern that have turned Planet Earth into a giant science experiment with us as the lab rats. Over two-thirds of Americans support the upgrade. It's time for a real race for the cure.
I wish for a ban on BPA (Bisphenol A) found in everything from receipts and canned food to water bottles and dental sealants. BPA is one of the most common chemicals to which we are exposed in everyday life. It is the building block of polycarbonate plastic and is also used in the manufacture of epoxy resins. Because we are exposed to it in such great quantities, you'd like to be certain that it's safe. Unfortunately, BPA has become an increasingly hot chemical of concern with associations to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, miscarriages, breast and prostate cancer, reproductive dysfunction, metabolic dysfunction and diabetes, and neurological and behavioral disorders and, well... need I go on? Apparently so.
I wish for the climate deniers who continue to insist that global warming isn't real to get over it and get out of the way. Our global climate is obviously going haywire -- 2012 was the hottest year ever in the U.S. and the wettest ever in England. Brazil is baking, Australia is on fire, it's snowing in Israel, and last October weather erased the Jersey Shore. Something's wrong and incontrovertible science says it's humanity’s emissions. Deal with it. Or step aside so the rest of us can.
Speaking of climate change (and my guess is we will be in 2013), I wish for an Energy Marshall Plan that displays the kind of audacity and imagination for which America used to be known. Picture a massive, WWII-like effort to create a 100% pollution-free, renewable energy system. We can do it -- we have the ingenuity, we just need the financing and the attitude. The result would be a super-charged economy making fistfuls of cash cleaning up the world instead of destroying it.
I wish for public financing of federal election campaigns. No more special interests and industry influence, no more zillionaire checkbooks and corporate quid pro quos, no more politicians bought by the few at the expense of the many. Let's take the money out of politics and restore a government of the people, by the people, and, most importantly, for the people. It’s the only answer to most of what ails us.
Finally, I wish for us to stop being so frightened by so much. So frightened that we are willing to sacrifice our constitutional ideals for a little Orwellian "homeland security." So frightened of each other that so many of us feel compelled to keep an armory within arm's reach. So frightened of the future that we insist on retreating to the past. Instead of reacting to the inevitability of change with cowardice and violence, ignorance and greed, I wish for us to fearlessly embrace truth, peace, hope, and empathy, and to boldly set aside everything opposed to them.
That's what I wish for: a smarter, braver, healthier, and more inspired world. Let's make 2013 the year we start building it.
The Inkslinger has written about environmental issues for over 20 years and is a freelance writer for some of America's most iconoclastic companies and non-profits. His true loves include nature, music of the Americana/rock and roll variety, interior design, books, old things, good stories, pagan rituals, and his wife of 24 years, with whom he lives in an undisclosed chemical-free rural Vermont location along with his teenage daughter and two infinitely hilarious Australian shepherds!