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November 7, 2012

Death to Daylight Saving Time

Kevin E. Dayhoff

Other than the benefit of the extra hour of sleep you gained early Sunday morning when Daylight Saving Time officially ended for the year, a gathering chorus of critics thinks the anachronistic timekeeping concept from yesteryear is not worth the bother.


The terms, “fall back” and “spring forward” seem like such a simple concept and have the deceptive allure and singsong of a children’s nursery rhyme. The California Energy Commission notes: “It's ingrained in our consciousness almost as much as the A-B-Cs or our spelling reminder of "i before e...." And it's a regular event … Yet in those four words is a whole collection of trivia, facts, and common sense about Daylight Saving Time.”


Well, count me in as one of the critics who have failed to find any “common sense” in Daylight Saving Time.


Although it was originally designed to supposedly save energy, many agree with NBC journalist Mike Taibbi, who recently opined that “for many people the whole spring ahead/fall back change the clocks thing is an annoyance that doesn't make a lot of sense.”


It was Benjamin Franklin who was the first to ponder – in 1784 – the merits of maximizing the amount of daylight working hours and reducing the need for artificial light.


Mr. Franklin is credited with advocating the value of “daylight saving” in a satirical anonymous letter to the editor of the Journal of Paris, which proposed, among many humorous remedies to the overuse of candles, a tax on shutters, to be enforced by stepped-up police vigilance and the rationing of candles…


“…I would propose the following regulations; First. Let a tax be laid of a louis per window, on every window that is provided with shutters to keep out the light of the sun.


“Second. Let the same salutary operation of police be made use of, to prevent our burning candles … let guards be placed in the shops of the wax and tallow chandlers, and no family be permitted to be supplied with more than one pound of candles per week…”


Springing forward to the modern era of timekeeping and artificial light, it was New Zealand postal clerk, entomologist and astronomer, George Vernon Hudson (April 20, 1867 – April 5, 1946) who proposed “seasonal time adjustment.”


According to an entry in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Mr. Hudson’s “shift-work job made him aware of the value of the daylight hours, and, on 16 October 1895, he presented a paper to the Wellington Philosophical Society advocating seasonal time adjustment. The idea was ridiculed by a number of society members, but ultimately … gained acceptance…


The Astronomical Applications Department of the U.S. Naval Observatory reports that “standard time” was instituted by the railroads in the U.S. and Canada in 1883; the concept of standardized timekeeping was not made into law until March 19, 1918.


It was then that the Standard Time Act also established Daylight Saving Time; “a contentious idea then. Daylight Saving Time was repealed in 1919, but standard time in time zones remained in law. Daylight time became a local matter.


“It was re-established nationally early in World War II, and was continuously observed from 9 February 1942 to 30 September 1945. After the war, its use varied among states and localities.”


It was not until the Uniform Time Act of 1966 that the dates, for the beginning and end of Daylight Saving Time during the summer months, were established. “The act provided that daylight time (start) on the last Sunday in April and end on the last Sunday in October, with the changeover to occur at 2 a.m. local time.”


Congress meddled with the starting dates during the “energy crisis” years in the mid-1970s. Although the ending date remained in October, “In 1974, daylight time began on 6 January and in 1975 it began on 23 February. After those two years the starting date reverted to the last Sunday in April.


“In 1986, a law was passed that shifted the starting date of daylight time to the first Sunday in April, beginning in 1987…”


The “Energy Policy Act of 2005 changed the “spring forward” and “fall back” dates once again. The 2005 law mandated that “beginning in 2007, daylight time starts on the second Sunday in March, and ends on the first Sunday in November.”


Today, “Daylight Saving Time – for the U.S. and its territories – is not observed in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and by most of Arizona…” according to the California Energy Commission.


Agriculture has traditionally opposed Daylight Saving Time because our days are really dictated by the sun and not clocks. Springing the clock forward in the summer actually takes an hour away from the workday in the morning.


Besides, according to an article on the debate over this concept in Indiana in “Time and” “Research from the University of California showed that having the entire state switch to Daylight Saving Time would cost Indiana households about $8.6 million in electricity bills each year.


“The study also estimated social costs of increased pollution emissions that ranged from $1.6 to $5.3 million per year. Moreover, the reduced cost of lighting in afternoons during Daylight Saving Time was offset by higher air-conditioning costs on hot afternoons and increased heating costs on cool mornings.”


Ultimately many will agree with Dennis Fuller, who, on March 10, 2012, repeated in an article for The New American, the tale about the old Indian chief who was told of the reasons for Daylight Saving Time. To which the chief responded: “Only the government could believe that cutting a foot off the top of a blanket and sewing it to the bottom, would make a longer blanket.”


What time is it? It’s time to repeal Daylight Saving Time. That’s what time it is…


 . . . . . I’m just saying. . . . .


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