Sunday, November 1, 2009

Day Light Savings Time

This is the world clock - at normal time - for my time zone. By the time you see this it will be way past the offical end of day light savings time for the year 2009.

So what is the story about changing the clocks. Do we save time, have more 'free' time, and does everybody do it? The easy answer NO, Maybe, NO.

Personally I don't mind it either way - though finding an extra hour today is a bonus to me. It's the change in the spring, generally at a crucial time in tax season, that takes me a day or so to get adjusted. Sitting outdoors for an evening summer concert is really nice - though I'd do it whether or not we changed the clocks - it's warm!

Changing the clocks was conceived by Benjamin Franklin in 1784 though it didn't get attention until World War I in 1916 when Germany and Austria first put it into practice. This policy came about to save power (electric) consumption.

There hasn't been anything standard about going in and out of Daylight Savings Time or Summer Time as it is referred to in England. The railways in the England, the US and Canada were the ones responsible to set a Standard Time. They needed to set their schedules back in the late l800s. The US got on board March 19, 1918 when it first adopted standard time zones as suggested by the railroad. The law was repealed in 1919 and left setting time at a local government option. The law was back in and out many times until President Nixon and then President Johnson in 1966 finally found a method that could be used for DST and is what we practice today(almost). In fact the Department of Transportation is responsible for all "time" matters. Hmmm makes me wonder why they can't fix the roads in a timely manner? :)

Back to my questions:

Do we save time? No - it's the same twenty-four hours. It is how we view the clock. If you don't use the time, it's gone. You can not put that hour in a box to take out later.

Do we have more free time? The thought of enjoying an extra hour of sunlight in the evening was a good idea back in 1918 and it probably did save energy. Here I'm equating free with savings. Though today, this may very well be false. Many American's have the luxury of an automobile and whether or not it is sunny (except for some sports) can drive somewhere to enjoy the extra hour, therefore expending a different kinds of engery. And with the advent of additional home conveniences, such as the microwave, computers, electronic games, heck, it took until 1955 when 80% of American homes had electric refrigerators. Air conditioning - a convenience used during the DST time of the year wasn't available when certain surveys were done back in those days. Gee whiz, last I checked my A/C uses electric!

For those folks living closer to the North and South Poles and those affected by the amount of sunlight can have more health issues and may actually be helped with DST. It has been studied that there are more traffic fatalites after the end of DST as walkers and drivers have to adjust. There are inconclusive studies about the criminal element during non DST months.

Does everybody do it? Those that live on the equator, don't because it doesn't matter. Either way you cut it, they have 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night. Japan, most of India, China and most of Saskatchewan don't do it. In the state of Indiana, well most of Indiana, didn't until 2005 yet they observe two different time zones! They found that DST actually cost them more and the cost was attributible to "social costs". Farmers dislike it as their day begins with the dawn and not because of a clock. Did you know that it takes chickens more than three weeks to adjust to the one hour change? Some countries have compromised mostly due to strattling the time zones, such as Kathmandu, Nepal is 5+3/4 hours ahead of GMT, and Calcutta, India is 5+1/2 hours of GMT.

So what to do? Get going with your life! I mentioned the other day - I look forward to the Winter Soltice - around December 21st as it is the turn and summer isn't too far away. Nice to be looking ahead of time.

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