George Hasara – Columnist
Going off of Daylight Saving Time (DST) and returning to Standard Time has thrown off my writing bio-rhythms. Is it earlier or later than it was? Am I sleepier or more alert? Did I write about this topic already? Hopefully you will accept this somewhat rewritten version of an article written a few years back as “new and improved” and not the blatant self-plagiarism that it could be construed as.
Daylight Saving Time was introduced in this country during WWI and reanimated for the Second World War. Along the way, legislation was added in the 1960s and ’70s to codify a scheme that was originally proposed by Benjamin Franklin as a spoof.
The idea during the First World War was that by moving the clocks forward an hour, more daylight would be available for war-effort production. Sure, you can “create” more light at the end of day, but that only means you have less at the beginning. This measurement sleight-of hand reminds me of how gas stations during the oil crisis in the ’70s, shifted from gallons to liters in order to give the illusion of lower prices.
Studies measuring energy savings have been inconclusive at best. After adopting DST in 2006, Indiana found state energy use actually climbed slightly higher. Arizona and Hawaii are the two states that leave their clocks alone and they seemed to have managed alright without learning the mnemonic of “spring forward and fall back.” When I fall, it’s usually forward, so the famous memory aid always gets muddled in my mind. Since DST now begins on the second Sunday of March, there isn’t even a “spring” part, since the time change actually begins in late winter. Lasting nearly eight months, Daylight Saving Time is more the “standard” time than Standard Time is.
After the clocks are reset, there is invariably confusion. Is it the old eight or the new eight in the morning? I might be unsure when it’s time to eat, but my dog at least manages to let me know when he is hungry, without the assistance of a clock.
Ironically, if there is a season that could possibly benefit with more evening sunlight, it is winter and not the summer. Summer already has plenty of sunshine and depending on the latitude, DST pushes daytime nearly to bedtime.
If you are going with a flawed idea, you may as well get inventive. How about adopting a mini-DST for the weekend? Springing forward on Saturday morning to give extra light for the weekend festivities sounds doable. Of course, come Monday morning the clocks are moved back for that extra hour of needed shut eye. I’m sure the right study could be produced to justify the plan.
The weekend version of DST is silly but no less pointless than the annual version which only hangs on because of its familiarity and the force of law. The government legislating time is a good example of solving a problem that doesn’t exist. However, for now I won’t fret over it, at least not until we spring forward come March 8.
Contact George at firstname.lastname@example.org.