Daylight Savings Time might have been a good idea in the beginning, but it has since lost its appeal. Most of the people I talk to are not thrilled with it, particularly now with it starting in March. I have two problems with it. The first issue I take with DST is just when it is light for my drive to work, it’s time to set the clocks ahead an hour. Once more I’m driving to work in the dark – for another month! Second only to that is the lateness of nightfall in the summer. If I was a stay-at-home parent, or a kid on summer break, maybe full daylight at 10PM would be fun. For someone who needs to be sleeping by then, it is most definitely not fun.
The first person to publicly suggest some modification of the clocks in summer was Benjamin Franklin. It wasn’t until World War I that it became a fact. Initially seen as a way to conserve energy by allowing people to keep their electric lights off longer in the evenings, it has evolved and expanded to what it is today. Various reasons for using DST include less violent crime occurs in daylight, children are safer in the evenings, fewer traffic accidents, and energy conservation. Through various studies, however, most of these reasons have been shown to be at least partially false.
Daylight Savings Time doesn’t really save much energy. Based on studies by many universities and think tanks, it has been show that DST actually can increase our use of energy. A study at UC Berkeley in California found that any decrease of use in the evening was more than offset by additional energy usage in the morning.
As for whether DST reduces crime and traffic accidents is harder to quantify. Government studies claim that it’s true, but I wasn’t able to find any non-government studies that reported similar findings. I believe the evidence that DST lowers crime to be murky at best. As to traffic accidents being reduced, studies have shown that in the first week after the start of DST, traffic accidents due to impaired driving actually increased. There are actually more morning fatalities in the time period spanning the first week of DST – including school bus crashes. It is unclear as to whether this is offset by fewer accidents later in the year.
Catherine Porter, a reporter with The Star, a Toronto, Canada newspaper, published an article decrying DST. The article outlined a report by the state of Indiana (where I live…) showing irrefutable proof that DST doesn’t save energy. In fact, DST is costing the people of Indiana an additional 8.6 billion dollars – before we switched to the even earlier March set back of clocks. The article goes on to discuss the need for additional air conditioning for the hour(s) of daylight that have been shifted from morning to evening – another costly swap. It is obvious to me that the cost of DST will be even higher this year.
We are taking on additional costs to cool and light our homes at a time of economic recession, although the government would have us believe that this is not the case. What is the case, and has been shown to be true, is that we shop more when it’s light. We are more likely to vote when it is light. In fact, one of the less publicized reasons for extending DST into November was because if it is light, more people will come out to vote. It had very little to do with ensuring the safety of our precious babies while they Trick-or-Treated.
Write to your elected officials and end this march to MDH (Maximum Daylight Hours). The truth of the matter is, the number of hours it is light doesn’t change just because we set our clocks ahead or back. The sun doesn’t follow the minute hand of my clock. If you want more daylight, get up earlier. Don’t want to mow your lawn in the dark? Do it before dinner instead of after. Want your kids safe at Halloween? Have a neighborhood party instead of the door-to-door begging marathon. Do what farmers have done for millenia – work when the sun shines, and sleep when it doesn’t. We’ll all be happier and healthier, and Gaia will thank us.
About Daylight Savings Time: History, Rationale, Laws, Debate – http://webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/
Study: Extending Daylight Saving Time is an unlikely energy saver – http://www.physorg.com/news92674964.html