Sunday, March 11, 2012

Daylight Savings Time - What Say You?

It's that time of year again.  Change the batteries in your smoke detector and wind the clocks forward.  Even if you slept in today, those of you with strict hours at work will notice work's arrival an hour earlier tomorrow.

This begs the question of "why".  It seems that none other than Ben Franklin (writing anonymously and satirically) advocated the use of a DST-like concept as early as 1784.  He was living in Paris at the time, and he contended that Parisians would save a lot of money on candles because they were forced to get up earlier.  He went so far as to advocate a curfew and the ringing of church bells at sunrise to force people to awaken.  He was not alone in his thinking.  In 1934, Winston Churchill said that DST enlarges "the opportunities for the pursuit of health and happiness among the millions of people who live in this country." 

The idea was bandied about in New Zealand and later England in the late 1890's.  Alas, DST was not to come to pass until World War I.  It was originally used by the Axis nations to conserve coal during the summertime, and it was quickly adopted by other European nations.  The practice fell out of favor after the war, but it was eventually adopted by many nations by varying degrees.  Whether or not the practice has any actual energy-saving benefits is open to debate. 

Having always been a morning person, I've never had much use for DST.  Just yesterday, I was able to go far a walk in the woods with my dog at 6 AM in daylight.  Today, not so much.  Why must we assume that everyone uses their leisure time in the evening?

I say let's repeal the process and let people live on their own time.  Eat when you're hungry.  Sleep when you're tired.  Of course, that won't work because need some standard of time in order to function as a society.  This leaves us with at least three options that I can think of: 1) leave the clocks on standard (or would that be daylight wasting?) time year-round, 2) leave the clocks on DST year-round, or go the way of Afghanistan and Newfoundland and split the difference by permanently setting the clocks 30 minutes ahead of standard time.

What say you?