This last weekend, we experienced our yearly springtime ritual of setting the clocks forward for daylight savings time (DST). In essence, we have to wake up an hour earlier for a few days until our bodies adjust. The thing about Daylight savings time is, it’s another example of our antiquated mentalities and inability to change.
Let’s look at the history of daylight savings and I’ll explain why it’s no longer needed, as I’ve found most people are under many misgivings as to the purpose of this little springtime torture ritual we experience.
First the origins – Most people believe and are taught via public education that it started so farmers back in the day, could have more natural light for farming. This in fact is not true. Knowledge I gained after grade school, and after many hours vedging in front of the History Channel. It was actually first proposed by Benjamin Franklin as a way to save on candles and oil lamps, but never caught on. DST actually first began during World War 1 as a way to allow for more light and killing. For those of you, sticking to the farming idea, according to or friends at Wikipedia, “The wartime measure proved unpopular among farmers”
Why wasn’t it repealed right after the war? Their actually were many attempts to do away with DST. But once again, thanks to the need to kill as much as possible, during WW2 Roosevelt reinstated DST or “War Time”.
One of the problems of Roosevelt’s "War Time", was a lack of standardization. Basically, across the U.S. some areas followed DST and some didn’t. People were confused and needed the government to step in. Unfortunately, instead of repealing DST altogether, they created the Uniform Time Act in 1966. Beginning the practice that DST begins on the last Sunday of April and ends on the last Sunday of October, later changed to the first Sunday of April in the 80’s. And most recently in 2005 to the Second Sunday in March. Of course, states can choose not to participate, with Arizona and Hawaii doing so.
Now that we no longer need daylight to kill one another, why haven’t we repealed it? I’m glad you asked, this goes back to Nixon and the mentality of most Americans that apparently still think it’s 1974. In 1974 the president responsible for multiple laws that really piss me off, President Nixon signed the Daylight Saving Time Energy Act.
Leading to the current reason we use to justify DST - energy savings.
Energy: “Artificially delaying sunrise and sunset tends to increase electricity usage in the morning and reduce it in the evening. Savings occur if the evening reduction outweighs the morning increase.” Notice the keyword, "if".
One article stated, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) did a study showing we save in electricity “about one percent each day, because less electricity is used for lighting and appliances.” Besides asking the question why is the DOT doing studies on daylight savings, this particular article didn’t provide any details behind how it obtained it’s data. The study also appears to be from 1975 and as far as I can tell, hasn’t been done since.
Money: Another reason for the need of DST - Money. that's right, according to Wikipedia "Golf courses, convenience stores, and other businesses benefit from extra afternoon sunlight."
Since we are looking at studies on DST, let’s look at some studies against it.
Energy: Since energy seems to be the major reason for DST, “In 2000 when parts of Australia began DST in late winter, overall electricity consumption did not decrease”. Once again, we don’t get the details but at least the report is not 30 years old.
Auto Accidents: Another study shows: “evidence that the severity of auto accidents increases and work productivity decreases as people adjust to the time change” this sounds like a more appropriate study for the DOT. Personally I would value both these items as higher priority than 1% energy savings.
Economic effects: “Clock shifts disrupt sleep patterns, and correlate with decreased economic efficiency. Researchers estimated in 2000 that the daylight-saving effect implies a one-day loss of $31 billion on the NYSE, AMEX, and NASDAQ alone”
I've found many more studies against DST than I've found in favor of it. What it comes down to is, Daylight Savings Time is an outdated rule that is propagated by the ignorant.