The Fallacy of Daylight Saving Time


Spring ahead, Fall Back. It happens every year, and every year I hear the same silly comment. “I love Daylight Saving Time because we get an extra hour of daylight!” And every time I hear that I want to slap someone because it’s so absurd a notion that I can’t believe anyone over the age of five (I don’t mean to insult five year olds) would embrace it. So what I would like to do here is clear up a couple of things about what Daylight Saving Time really is (and isn’t). But first, a brief history...

Daylight Saving Time (DST) was originally dreamed up in 1895 by an amateur entomologist in New Zealand named G. V. Hudson. It had nothing to do with farmers getting their crops to market as so many people think, just some butterfly collector wanting to get out of work earlier. Anyway, the idea was kicked around in New Zealand’s parliament for a few years, but saner heads prevailed and it died on the vine. In 1905, an Englishman arrived independently at the same idea, and the British kicked it around for a few years before it went away there, too. During WWI, Germany and its Allies began observing DST as a way to conserve coal during the war and it has been observed off and on ever since, at varying times and in varying places, until the 1970’s when, thanks to the energy crunch, it came into full favor and still hangs like a millstone around our necks to this day. Benjamin Franklin said, “Early to bed, early to rise”, but I’m pretty sure that was meant as advice, not governmental mandate. 

Now, as to DST itself, one thing we need to be crystal clear on before we go any further in this discussion is this: You do NOT, repeat, do NOT get an extra hour of daylight when the clock is moved forward in the Spring. What does happen is this; you have to get out of bed an hour earlier, you have to go to work an hour earlier and you then get out of work an hour earlier. That’s IT! The sun keeps doing whatever it was going to do regardless of what the clock says or whatever time you get up in the morning. 

And guess what? The days get longer in the summer without ever moving the clocks! Mother Nature already had our backs on this! The sun’s movement is most assuredly not dictated by the clock. In fact, it is be the other way around. The clock is supposed to be moving according to the sun. In ancient Rome, they used to divide the daylight into twelve equal “hours” and the nighttime into twelve equal “hours” regardless of the time of year. Under that system daylight hours were obviously longer in the summer than they were in the winter, but that makes as much sense as moving the clocks up and back willy-nilly twice a year. Everyone knows why a digital watch is called “digital”; because it uses digits rather than hands to mark the passage of time. But have you ever stopped and wondered why an analog watch is called “analog”? Because the movement of the hands around the dial is an analogy for the passage of time, that’s why. The hands on the clock model the passage of time. Saying we get an extra hour of daylight by moving the hands on the clock is like adding an inch to a ruler and saying you’re and inch taller. It’s insane!Tired YawnSome of the negatives associated with moving the clocks ahead: In the days immediately following the switch to DST, heart attack rates go up, traffic accident rates go up and workplace accident rates go up (especially in the construction industry). Forcing people out of bed an hour earlier than usual causes sleep deprivation and can severely disrupt their circadian rhythms, leading to all sorts of health issues. One of the reasons I hate DST so much is because it takes me weeks to adjust to it and it is physically uncomfortable for me during this time. I know plenty of other people who have the same issue, although not everyone does. Some people I know claim they can adjust in one day or have no need to adjust at all. 

As for energy savings, there is no clear consensus on that. Indiana used to observe DST in about 15% of the state. A few years back they switched the whole state over and found that, across the board, they paid $8.6 million more in energy bills than they did before they switched! Probably because they started getting up in the dark and needed to use the lights more. Some studies find that the energy savings are somewhere around 1%, but I think we’d save at least that much by leaving the clocks alone. Indianans would agree! Hawaii and Arizona don’t move their clocks, and last I checked they were doing just fine. 

The negative effects of DST are measurable and inarguable and the supposed benefits are myth. On June 21st (summer solstice, longest day of the year) at 36-degrees N. latitude, there are 14.4 hours of daylight. On December 20 (winter solstice, shortest day of the year), there are 9.6 hours of daylight. That is exactly 50% more daylight on the longest day of the year than the shortest day of the year. Why are we moving the clocks ahead when it’s already staying light longer? Air conditioner usage isn’t going to decrease by resetting the clocks. Street lights go off and on with the sunrise and sunset. Businesses that are open 24-hours a day will still be burning their lights overnight. The difference is the nights will be shorter so we’ll use less energy anyway! 

Daylight Saving Time is a bad idea and does more harm than good. Many people believe as I do and many have begun petitions and movements to have it abolished. Investigate for yourself and I think you’ll agree.