Semi-Annual Debate: What About Daylight Savings Time Hell?

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On Sunday, November 3, those on Daylight Savings Time need to adjust their clocks. Does this make any sense?

Hell to Pay

It's nice when you gain an hour of sleep. But it seems like hell when you lose one.

Only a Joke

Many don't know this but Benjamin Franklin proposed Daylight Savings Time as a Joke.

In case every news anchor on your television screen telling you to "spring forward" hasn't been enough of a reminder, Sunday marks the start of Daylight Saving Time, a bizarre routine in which most Americans' iPhones automatically steal an hour of sleep from them.

The act of moving the clock an hour forward in an effort to save time in the sun during the warmer months is almost always credited to Philadelphia's most famous son, Benjamin Franklin.

Here's the thing: when Franklin wrote to Paris about "diminishing the cost of light," he wasn't being serious. He was making a joke.

The letter Franklin wrote anonymously to Parisians about making better use of daylight was satirical. Per The History Channel:

By the time he was a 78-year-old American envoy in Paris in 1784, the man who espoused the virtues of “early to bed and early to rise” was not practicing what he preached. After being unpleasantly stirred from sleep at 6 a.m. by the summer sun, the founding father penned a satirical essay in which he calculated that Parisians, simply by waking up at dawn, could save the modern-day equivalent of $200 million through “the economy of using sunshine instead of candles.”

Oh, and the best part? As History notes, Franklin wasn't even suggesting the idea of Daylight Saving Time. All he was doing was making fun of the French and suggesting they get out of bed earlier.

Joke or Not

Joke or not we are still stuck with the ritual.

And twice every year a debate takes place.

Pros and Cons Take 1

Please consider Top 3 Pros and Cons of Daylight Saving Time

Top 3 Pros

  1. Daylight Saving Time's (DST) Longer Daylight Hours Promote Safety.
  2. DST Is Good for the Economy.
  3. DST Promotes Active Lifestyles.

Top 3 Cons

  1. Daylight Saving Time (DST) Is Bad for Your Health.
  2. DST Drops Productivity.
  3. DST Is Expensive.

Never Ending Debate

People in favor of keeping Daylight Saving Time say it allows drivers to commute more safely in daylight, promotes outdoor activities, and stimulates the economy. Those who oppose Daylight Saving Time say that the change is a harmful disruption to health and work productivity, and is expensive. While the time change was initially implemented to save energy, studies are mixed and have found our current use of air conditioning and heating may negate the energy saved by not having to use electric lights and may actually increase electricity usage.

What Really Happened?

  1. Benjamin Franklin is often credited with the idea of DST because, in a satirical letter to the authors of The Journal of Paris, he suggested the French wake earlier to take advantage of "using sunshine instead of candles."
  2. DST as we know it was proposed by a New Zealand entomologist, George Vernon Hudson, who wanted longer hours for insect study.
  3. The first locality to enact DST was Port Arthur (now Thunder Bay, Ontario), Canada, in 1908. The first country to enact DST was Germany on Apr. 30, 1916, although the Germans dropped the time change at war's end.
  4. American farmers were opposed to DST because, regardless of what the clock said, their cows weren't ready to be milked until later in the day during DST.
  5. A resort in Madagascar created its own DST, which runs an hour ahead of the rest of the country, so the lemurs would "naturally join us in the Oasis garden… for the '5 O’clock tea.'"
  6. Some ancient civilizations are known to have used practices similar to DST. Roman water clocks, for example, used different scales for different times of the year.

Hero or Goat?

Benjamin Franklin was joking, but the unsung hero (or goat) was New Zealand entomologist, George Vernon Hudson, who wanted longer hours for insect study.

Who is Affected?

Approximately 1.5 billion people in 70 countries observe DST worldwide. In the United States, 48 states participate in Daylight Saving Time. Arizona, Hawaii, some Amish communities, and the American territories (American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands) do not observe DST. As of Mar. 4, 2019, at least 44 bills to change daylight saving were being actively considered in 24 states. 55% of Americans said they are not disrupted by the time change, 28% report a minor disruption, and 13% said the change is a major disruption.

World Divided Over Time

Curse Against Humanity

Business Insider comments Daylight-Saving Time is a Curse Against Humanity.

​More than 152,560 people have petitioned Congress to end daylight-saving time. Some of the comments on the petition are practical appeals.

​Get Rid of DST?

I am all in favor. Are you?

But how?

​Standardtime.com has a peculiar suggestion.

Imagine you are right on the border of that line. Crossing the line would change the time by two hours.

That will never fly.

Change Which Way?

Assume a more practical "no change". But which way?

  1. ​Perpetual DST
  2. Perpetual Regular Time
  3. Double DST

Less than half are happy with the damn clock-change ritual, but there is no consensus how to fix it.

Some want two time zones. Some want double DST (perpetual DST but a two hour shift), and some simply want to kill the whole damn thing.

My preference in order

  1. Perpetual Regular Time
  2. Perpetual DST
  3. DST

Double DST and standard time are simply too bizarre to rank.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (28)
No. 1-19
hmk
hmk

It never used to make a difference to me I liked dst in the summer but it wouldn't fly all year long as it wouldn't get daylight until 9 am in the winter. This year, must be because I am getting older, I noticed the difference in the spring losing an hour. I am curious to see if the reverse affects me the same way. If I had to choose I would go with permanent dst.

abend237-04
abend237-04

It's the AGW of time management, with even less data to support it. My personal favorite time zone to hate is Adelaide, Australia...30 minutes earlier than Sydney. Try keeping track of that and whether Phoenix switches or doesn't...it doesn't.

stillCJ
stillCJ

Editor

However it ends up, I hope all the states (or at least the contiguous 48) will do the same thing. When I travel through AZ I never know what time it is there because they don't change their clocks like everyone else. But the really nutty thing about AZ is alcohol servers are required to card everyone, even if the patron is obviously about 80 years old.

Tengen
Tengen

I'd prefer permanent DST. I don't need broad daylight at 5AM in the summer and the evening rush hour would be worse after sunset.

I believe the US tried this back in the mid 1970s but parents complained about kids waiting for their school bus in the dark and torpedoed the whole thing. Today it seems like so many kids get dropped off at school by their parents that it may not be much of an issue anymore.

Latkes
Latkes

Permanent DST is the only way to go. Everybody who disagrees is a racist misogynist extremist.

Je'Ri
Je'Ri

The biggest joke is that the US decided, for whatever reason, to change the dates it moved its clocks to not coincide with much of the rest of the world, which means that for at least several weeks a year, the US is out of step with the rest of the world. Go figure.

Six000mileyear
Six000mileyear

Either DST or regular time. Having to adjust my sleep twice a year is inconvenient. The past couple of years I have adjusted my schedule the week leading up to the change so my body acclimates gradually.

KidHorn
KidHorn

I would be OK with permanent DST. Way more people wake up later and go to sleep later than the converse. Having daylight at 5 PM is more useful than having daylight at 8 AM.

Quatloo
Quatloo

It is just a matter of time before DST ends. Europe has been talking much more urgently about ending it than America, though Arizona has never used DST.

RonJ
RonJ

Radio alarm goes off this morning- there is another serious brush fire burning in Los Angeles. The Getty fire, started near the Getty Museum, above the 405 freeway. Don't know much details but sounds serious in terms of danger to homes.

wootendw
wootendw

When I was a child living in the east, I loved DST because I could go out and play longer after dinner.

During my working life in the east, I liked it because I could do work in my yard that I might otherwise have to spend the weekend doing.

I remember an idea I had (that many others have had) which is now called 'double' daylight time. I would have added another hour of DST to the clock between the Memorial and Labor Day weekends.

When I moved, in 1997, to the Phoenix area, which doesn't have DST, I was happy to see the sun go down as soon as possible in the summer time. There wasn't much yard work to do as we didn't have a lawn. The best time to spend 'saved' daylight outdoors was in the early morning.

Now that I am retired, it doesn't make any difference. I get plenty of time zone changes driving across the country and back.

As far as government policy is concerned, it is no more and infringement on people's rights to change the clock that to leave it where it is.

Some stories in the news about DST, by people who oppose it, claim that it started here in the '70s during the energy crisis. That is FALSE. All Nixon did was make it year-round - stupid because kids in western Indiana and other places ended up going to school on a dark January morning.

RonJ
RonJ

In CA we had a ballot proposition to stay on DST. It passed. I voted against. It is nice to have an extra hour of daylight in the summer and it would be getting daylight at like 4:30 am on standard time, but at Christmas it would be dark until near 8 am. on DST.

ksdude69
ksdude69

I hate it, but unfort:

Good for economy vs. Good for your health

Congress: "Drop Dead".

Then again might make a good excuse 2x a year "Due to the removal of DST, our leading BS indicator is down 2%".

Webej
Webej

I seriously started to hate DST when my children were young. It was already hard to get them to sleep on time (it's light until 11pm here on the 21 June), without having even more light in the evening ... and listening to other children still playing as we were telling them it was bed time. Children go by their body, not by the clock.

In the heart of winter everybody is already getting up in the dark, and it makes no sense for school children to have longer periods of going to school in the dark. DST makes no sense to me.

That said, I am a night owl and personally prefer later hours, but, in terms of society, the discussion should either revolve around changing opening hours, or whatever, but changing the clock seems childish magical thinking, like advancing the kitchen clock 10 mins to be on time, or changing the clock to meet a deadline.

In Europe the argument is being held up by the disagreement between those who want DST all year round and those that don't. Don't forget that NY and Chicago are the same latitude as Rome and Madrid, so the early morning darkness is more severe here. Not changing the clock has well over majority support.

Outside of temperate zones (tropical) DST makes no sense, since there is less variation in the length of the days.

nrn
nrn

i prefer "pilot", ZULU, or UTC time (all the same thing). if it is 0230 in Hong Kong, it is 0230 in Miami. no DST or any other changes.

Stuki
Stuki

"The first locality to enact DST was Port Arthur (now Thunder Bay, Ontario), Canada, in 1908. The first country to enact DST was Germany on Apr. 30, 1916, ...."

Anyone surprised it was enacted at the same time as equally moronic central banks engaged in similar arbitrariness wrt units of money?

Herkie
Herkie

i hate it so much that I finally just quit changing my clocks and the world can go diddle itself as far as I am concerned. I am retired I do not HAVE to be anywhere at a given time. If I have an appointment my phone tells me when and it automatically is at the time the rest of the world is.

sharonsj
sharonsj

I'm in the East and I love DST. I would like it to be permanent because I have trouble seeing to drive at night. I also hate getting up very early. No DST means I can't go anywhere in the late afternoon. I end up being stuck inside a good deal of the winter.

snafuman
snafuman

When I lived in Page, Arizona many years ago, the town of Page was on Arizona time, no Daylight savings time. A few miles north and you were in Utah which was on DST. The town was surrounded by the Navajo Reservation to the south, east and southwest which was also on DST. In town, Standard Time, a couple miles out of town in almost any direction (except West-North-West which was all canyons, desert and mesas) and you were in Daylight Savings Time. Fun!