I’m going to poke a bear, upset an apple cart, kick a hornet’s nest …
What are your thoughts on Daylight Saving Time?
Recent news that the Senate passed a bill to make DST permanent reminded me that I absolutely detest “Spring Forward.” My dislike of it is almost as strong as my cold loathing for mayonnaise and if you know me, that’s extreme.
A trick of the clock neither takes nor adds actual sunlight, but it really does a number on a night owl-insomniac like yours truly.
Others, of course, argue that they like the clock to strike 5 while it is still light so they can go outside to enjoy themselves after work; as well, there are arguments about energy savings and general quality of life.
So I appreciate that my needs are not the only needs. (But I still hate Spring Forward.)
Here is some history to consider:
Depending on your view of Spring Forward, you have people like George Hudson (New Zealand) and, 10 years later, William Willett (United Kingdom) to curse or love (per The History Channel). Willett in 1905 conceived of moving clocks forward — between April and October, and by 80 minutes, not 60. (Hudson wanted two hours. Oh, my sleepy eyes!)
According to The History Channel, Willett’s idea never cleared British Parliament before his death in 1915. It was Germany that implemented a version of Willett’s idea, with the goal of saving electricity during WWI.
But in the U.S., the idea was pushed by farmers, right?
History Channel says no: It was first implemented here as a wartime measure in 1918, as “the sun, not the clock, dictated farmers’ schedules, so daylight saving was very disruptive.” Then in 1919, Congress overrode a presidential veto to repeal national Daylight Saving Time. (See! It isn’t just me!)
Since then, “it has been urban entities such as retail outlets and recreational businesses that have championed daylight saving over the decades.”
The History Channel’s summary says that after the national repeal, various state and local practices created “chaos” as some places retained daylight saving and others did not (with the exception of a national daylight saving during WWII). In 1966, the Uniform Time Act standardized Daylight Saving Time from the last Sunday in April until the last Sunday in October. States, however, could remain on standard time all year — like Arizona today, for instance. (That is, except for the Navajo Nation within the state’s boundaries.)
You might also notice DST no longer begins at the end of April. In 2005, President George W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act, which extended DST to start the second Sunday of March and to end the first Sunday in November.
And I’ll point to this nugget from The History Channel: “Evidence does not conclusively point to energy conservation as a result of daylight saving.” The total savings associated with DST was estimated to be about 1% during spring and fall, according to a 1970s study, and “recent studies have found that cost savings on lighting are more than offset by greater cooling (air conditioning) expenses.” Plus, while people might be getting out more, a lot of them are driving to do it, leading to more gas-use.
However … proponents of the 2005 Energy Policy Act said that because people would be turning on home lights later in the day, both electricity and oil would be saved, according to TimeTemperature.com’s summary.
As for the recent Senate bill to make DST permanent? It’s been done!
Between January 1974 to April 1975, Congress did a trial run of permanent DST in hopes of saving energy. Support for the experiment plunged from 79% at first, to 42%, according to Smithsonian Magazine. The chief complaint: “prolonged early morning darkness in the winter, which left children heading to school when it was ‘jet black’ outside.”
Smithsonian cites the Washington Post for this information, as well as Washingtonian, whose reporter noted “that eight students in Florida died in traffic accidents in the weeks following the change; in the nation’s capital and its surrounding suburbs, similar incidents led some schools to delay classes until the sun came up.”
How would that play with working parents today? And with a delayed start extending the school day, would the kids also be coming home in the dark?
Anyhow, back to the 1970s: The trial DST act was repealed.
This time? The new bill likely will pass the House and become law, and we’re all going to find out how well it works. I might change my mind — but so might those who today sing the praises of permanent DST.
So maybe the best thing is to continue with Spring Forward and Fall Back. That way, everyone is going to be happy for at least part of the year.