As 2019 rumbles to an end, it is fair to think about the year to come and to make wishes about things that we think should change and things that we would like to see improve.
For a coastal community like ours, we share an acute awareness of the climate change-caused rise in sea level. The effects of ocean warming are now showing up in the distribution of some fish species.
Warmer water and reduced underwater oxygen are prime suspects in this fall’s generally poor bay scallop harvest in the Peconic Estuary. Around the world, the problems brought about by our own action, or inaction in the case of the United States, are leading to massive population upheavals and ecological disasters. Let 2020 be the start of our country’s return to climate leadership.
Let 2020, too, be a return to real policies benefiting working people. It is easy for us here on the South Fork to pretend that all is well, but the truth is that most American wages have remained about the same in terms of purchasing power from decades ago, but wage gains have been mostly limited to the top tiers of the scale.
This is at a time when a greater share of income for the poor and middle class has to go to such necessities as health care, whether workers pay the premiums themselves or employers hold the line on raises as insurance policy charges continually charge upward. There is not much agreement among lawmakers and economists about the causes, but another wish would be for the financial wellbeing of all Americans to be made a priority in 2020.
Finally we wish for more civility and decency in both private and public matters. Thankfully, there are already steps in that direction, in the #metoo movement bringing male sexual predators to justice and in our greater understanding of slavery and the origins of this country. Racist hate threatens to tear us apart from within. And in a national election year, the forces inside and outside of our country that divide us will be even greater.
Our final wish is for all Americans to remember that we are in this together.