DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME:
Why should we continue this useless relic from the past?
Let’s return to Standard Time All Year!
[Christopher Nyerges writes a regular blog at www.ChristopherNyerges.com, posts regular YouTube videos, and has led outdoor trips since 1974. He is the author of How to Survive Anywhere, Extreme Simplicity, Foraging California and other books. He can also be reached via School of Self-Reliance, Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90041.]
Our lawmakers, in their infinite wisdom, continue to tinker with time. Manipulate the clocks and we can trick the people into saving energy. And twice a year, we’re all subject to the changes and inconveniences that occur as a result of the springing forward or falling back. We have to quickly adjust. It is part of our annual ritual, our relic from the past, where we go back to standard time from daylight savings time. And now we are expected to extend this “better” time a few more weeks.
But are there real and tangible benefits from doing this? Must we continue to do so?
Daylight savings time is a manipulation of the basic solar time within each time zone’s standard. It was said to be an idea of Benjamin Franklin, and was begun in the United States during world wars one and two, and eventually became “official” in all but two states. That right! At least two states have said “No, thanks, we’ll stick to standard time.” And now a few states are saying, “We’re sick of changing our clocks twice a year – we want to keep daylight savings time all year.”
Daylight savings time is like a quaint tradition of a bygone era that refuses to die. It is a pointless habit with little recognizable merit. Michael Downing, author of “Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Savings Time,” demonstrates that the clock-change saves energy in theory only, but not in practice.
David Letterman once asked the question to his audience during his monologue: “Why do we practice daylight savings time? It’s so the farmers have more light,” he laughed, answering his own question. “But how does that give the plants more light?” That’s a Letterman joke for you, but there is a truth hidden under his humor. Most people queried on the street don’t know why we have daylight savings time, and fewer still experience any tangible benefits from it, except perhaps the pleasantness of a later sunset time in the summer.
There are two often-cited reasons for the use of daylight savings time. One is so that the children can have more light going to school in the morning. But consider: the children have an hour more of morning light in late October, when the clock is set back (“fall back”) to standard time. That is, it is the very use of daylight savings time which creates a darker morning as the days get shorter and shorter. The “falling back” an hour merely puts us back in sync with the local time zone. It is the use of daylight savings time that created the problem of less light in the morning, and only in that sense can you say that the “falling back” to regular time gives children that extra hour of light. In other words, this is a problem caused by daylight savings time. This is not a bonafide benefit from daylight savings time.
My grandfather, and all my uncles on my mother’s side were farmers. I have some knowledge of the schedule of farmers. There is not one that I know who does not arise at the crack of dawn, if not sooner. There is no other way to function as a farmer. You then proceed to work as long as needed, and as long as you are able, daylight savings time or standard time. The manipulation of clocks in no way affected how much work they got done, or not done.
I have talked to many people about daylight savings time. Some like it, some do not. Some are annoyed by it, some find the long afternoons of summer very enjoyable. Everyone has arrived late (or early) on the first Sunday (even Monday in some cases) after the changing of the clocks. Daylight savings time thus gives millions of people a quasi-valid excuse for lateness at least once a year.
Let’s end daylight savings time entirely and adopt a year-round standard time. If I were asked to choose between daylight savings time all year, or standard time all year, I would definitely choose standard time. Why? Simple! Standard time is the closest approximately of actual solar time. It more closely represents the real world than does the manipulation of daylight savings time.
Those who wish to start school or go to work earlier can do so! Such voluntary time alterations are fine if those individuals and schools and businesses choose to do so. It may even make the freeways less crowded at rush hours. But keep the standard time year-round.
Yes, this is a small thing in the context of a world at war, with hate and suspicion in all political camps, and endless economic hardships all over the world. In that big-picture sense, this is just a little issue. But this is still an issue that should be resolved, and dealt with.
Since daylight savings time is a state-by-state decision, we can begin with California. Write to Governor Brown and ask him to implement year-round standard time. You can write to Brown at Office of the Governor, State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 95814, or phone at 916) 445-2841, or on-line at www.govmail.ca.gov. (if you live in another state, write to your governor if you agree).
Take a poll of your friends and acquaintances before you write to the Governor. See if you can find anyone who derives tangible benefits from daylight savings time. Secondly, there is always the initiative process where a Proposition can be put on the ballot to be voted on by the people. This is a process that would take an organized effort and cost at least a million dollars, and probably more.