Daylight Saving Time: Are You Ready?

I could never get the hang of Daylight Saving Time (DST).  Spring Back / Fall Forward is too disruptive, too kinetic.  Why can’t we all just keep the same pace all year?

And yes, I know it’s supposed to be Spring Forward / Fall Back, but that sounds so Impetuous / Passive to me.  Where’s the verve, not to mention the logic?  Springing back suggests caution, wisdom, alertness, a skillful parry; laudable characteristics.  Falling forward suggests being knocked unconscious from behind, which is exactly how losing an hour of sleep affects me.  But then my Spring Back / Fall Forward mnemonic fails me every six months as I’m constantly two hours out of sync with my fellow time-travelers.

Daylight Saving Time

What in the world was George Hudson thinking?  He invented DST in 1895, and should be recognized in history as the Father of Sleep Deprivation.

Hudson was born in England and lived in New Zealand, so maybe he was affected by living on the opposite side of the planet for too long.  He was an astronomer and an entomologist, so he split his focus between looking up at stars and looking down at bugs.  That could explain why he had so little awareness of the real world around him.

Most telling is the fact that as a bug doctor, he spent a lot of afterhours time rooting around in the dark for the little critters.  This is when he proposed a two-hour shift in clocks; he would benefit from more sunlight in his off hours.  For the time being, though, saner minds prevailed.

Until Kaiser Wilhelm II came along.  In his quest to crush his enemies and dominate Europe, he decided that the time shift would save fuel and gain daylight, giving his forces an advantage.  Notoriously impetuous, he instituted DST before realizing that 1) no army in their right mind punches a time clock on the battlefield, and 2) his enemies would experience the exact same advantages if they took on DST – which they did.  The Kaiser’s kooky idea kicked off an unkind karma.  He instituted DST in 1916, and lost the war /abdicated / was exiled by 1918.  Serves him right.

How, then, did Daylight Saving Time survive?  Let’s look at some of the so-called “benefits” of DST – and why they’re all a crock:

  1. DST saves energy. Actually, recent studies have shown that DST uses more  Edison’s power-hungry incandescent bulbs are largely replaced today by Nicola Tesla’s power-efficient fluorescent bulb and T. P. Pearsall’s modern LED, eliminating the DST-saves-light-bulb-energy argument.  Meanwhile, the use of wasteful heating and air conditioning is increased with the wonky hours.
  2. Farmer’s benefit from DST. Actually, farmers benefit the least from DST.  To a farmer, the sun rises when it rises and sets when it sets.  It rains when it rains.  Neither crops nor livestock wear watches.  Farmers do not farm by the clock.
  3. DST is more work-efficient. Actually, punching in an hour earlier or an hour later makes no difference to workers who still put in an 8-hour shift.  Since everybody’s clocks are synchronized, rush hour is just as hectic, coffee breaks are still too short, and banks still close too early.  With DST, though, everybody is a bit crankier from the disruption in their sleep patterns.
  4. DST prevents winter depression. Total fiction, of course.  There are fewer daylight hours in the winter.    Lack of daylight is said to be the cause of seasonal depression.  No amount of clock-fixing will change that.  Exclamation point!
  5. DST synchronizes the world’s activities. Well, no.  The combination of man-made time zones, Earth’s annually swivelling axis, and the fact that the sun shines more at the equator than the poles debunks that theory.  Besides, there are about 40 alternate time zones in the world that don’t play along with the “normal” 24 time zones, some of which are off by 30-45 minutes.  Earth is naturally out of sync, and mankind is only making it worse with wacky rules about what time it is.
  6. DST helps businesses. How does it help drive-in theaters, which lose an hour of darkness throughout their peak season?  How does it help TV ratings when people are encouraged to be outdoors more in the summer?  How does it help clock-driven farm-related services and sun-driven farmers, who become more out-of-step with each other?  How does it help anybody who works a night shift, or who telecommutes, or who have young children, or who pull extra long shifts like doctors and cops?
  7. DST is better for the environment.   More “useable” daylight time means more driving means more air pollution.  A proven fact.
  8. DST is healthier for people. This lame argument has actually been made!  Biological clocks cannot be re-set.  Some people are early-risers, and some are not.  Forcing us to get up too early or too late is disruptive to our delicate systems.    It’s proven that heart attacks spike after the semi-annual time change.  Male suicide rates jump.  Also, more summer sunlight leads to more skin cancer, and increased air pollution deteriorates health and takes lives.
  9. DST is safer for people. Again, statistics argue this point.  Traffic accidents increase significantly during the two weeks after each time change.  Workplace accidents also increase.
  10. DST reduces crime. Huh?  No evidence backs this up.  Logic doesn’t even back this up.
  11. DST is easy. Bull dinkies.  There are 14 timepieces in my household.  That’s 28 otherwise unnecessary struggles with oven clocks, alarm clocks, car clocks, and tiny watches that I have to deal with each year.  What a headache!

Conclusion: Daylight Saving Time has had its 15 minutes, its clock has run out, its time is up.  125 out of 195 countries in the world do not use DST, and more are dropping out every year.  It’s wildly unpopular.  There are more compelling reasons to not use DST than to use it.  Let’s stop the madness.  I’ll even suggest a compromise: Next Fall, let everyone set their clock back just 30 minutes and leave it that way forever.

 

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