Saving Daylight?

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Image courtesy of twobee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

The pain of losing an hour, only to gain it back later in the year might be worth it if we thought we were being more energy efficient. Modern governments like to use that idea as the support behind continuing this practice. [1]  But where did that idea come from and is there really any reason that makes adjusting our clocks and schedules worth it?

Popular legend says that Ben Franklin came up with the idea of Daylight Savings to save candles. [2] The US and much of Europe decided to adopt it during World War 1. When the war ended it was so unpopular the national institution of it was repealed and it became a local matter. [3]  Since then the observation of it has been spotty. For example my husband grew up in one of the patches of Indiana which chose not to observe DST, but went to school in an Illinois city that did. Half the year they woke up at a completely different time from their classmates over the border.

We don’t seem to be clear on who actually benefits from DST. I have always heard that farmers were the reason we started it in the first place and were big proponents of DST. This turns out to be one of many myths circulating about DST and those it benefits. Farmers have actually been long time opponents of DST. They have even organized a lobby against it. Apparently livestock doesn’t really care what time it is when you need to attend to them. [4] School children are another population who are thought to benefit from DST. It turns out in reality they aren’t big fans either, because the time change puts them out on the streets when it is still dark. [5]

Some say that Daylight Savings can alleviate the winter blues, make people more active, and even spur the economy because when it is light later people are more likely to go out and spend money. [6]  One big winner in the DST debate is golf courses that can extend their hours when there is more light. Local Chambers of Commerce also benefit as people are more willing to go out and shop later in the day. But while people are out shopping and golfing, they are not watching TV, making TV stations opponents of Daylight Saving.

One of the big benefits, saving energy, which was thought to result from DST is coming more and more into question as increasingly comprehensive studies come out. Sure, we might use our household lights less, but with more daylight we are likely to use our air conditioning more. We are also more likely to go out and drive somewhere, using more gas. [7]  There are also our own circadian rhythms to think about. Some experts say that our internal biological clock never really adjusts to the switch in clock time.

So where does that leave most people? It turns out the benefits and downsides of DST are not widely known. Our lives have changed a good bit from the period when we first thought DST would be beneficial. When it was instituted it was basically taken with a certain amount of faith that it was a good idea. Now, with our modern penchant for studying everything, we are finding that the pros and cons are not in reality what we thought they were. We are taking into consideration, not just concrete things like energy usage, but also how the time change makes us feel. Many people want to simply throw it out. [8] Old habits die hard. Is this one worth changing?

 

  1. “Fact or Fable? Daylight Saving Time Saves Energy.” com. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 May 2016. <https://www.indianamichiganpower.com/save/eNewsletter/ViewStory.aspx?StoryID=350 >.
  2. Taylor, Deila. “Did Benjamin Franklin Start Daylight Saving Time?.” com. N.p., 2011. Web. 17 May 2016. <http://www.deilataylor.com/did-benjamin-franklin-start-daylight-saving-time/&gt;.
  3. Douma, Michael, curator. Daylight Saving Time. 2008. Institute for Dynamic Educational Advancement. retrieval day month year <http://www.webexhibits.org/daylightsaving&gt;.
  4. Feltman, Rachel. “5 Myths About Daylight Saving TIme.” com. N.p., 6 Mar. 2015. Web. 17 May 2016. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/five-myths-about-daylight-saving-time/2015/03/06/970092d4-c2c1-11e4-9271-610273846239_story.html >.
  5. Hockenberry, John. “Who Really Benefits From Daylight Saving Time?.” org. N.p., 7 Mar. 2014. Web. 17 May 2016. <http://www.wnyc.org/story/who-really-benefits-daylight-savings/&gt;.
  6. Yang, Nancy. Daylight Saving Time: Good of Bad for You?. N.p., 5 Mar. 2015. Web. 17 May 2016. <http://www.mprnews.org/story/2015/03/05/daylight-saving>.
  7. Handwerk, Brian. “Time to Move on? The Case Against Daylight Saving Time.” nationalgeographic.com. N.p., 1 Nov. 2013. Web. 17 May 2016. <http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/11/131101-when-does-daylight-savings-time-end-november-3-science/ >.
  8. Schiavenza, Matt. “Time to Kill Daylight Saving.” com. N.p., 8 Mar. 2015. Web. 17 May 2016. <http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2015/03/time-to-kill-daylight-saving/387175/ >.

 

Daylight Saving questions

 

  1. How has DST affected you? Have you missed appointments or church services? Do you get a burst of extra energy and a desire to be active?
  2. What do you think are the most important benefits of DST? How would you rate their importance in the grand scheme of things?
  3. What are the down sides of DST? Do these outweigh the positives, or balance them out?
  4. Do you think we should keep DST, get rid of it, or do something else entirely? Should we change our entire way of keeping time to max out the benefit to humans based on how we respond to the schedule of nature?
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