Witt: Simply put, Daylight Saving Time is stupid
Published 9:59 am Tuesday, April 2, 2019
Almost exactly four years ago, this column expounded on the absurdity of Daylight Saving Time (DST).
In the intervening years, not only has the ridiculousness of the concept not lessened, more and more voices are being raised, including an editorial in this paper on March 11, to highlight just how stupid this semi-annual changing of the clocks really is.
Joel Achenbach, writing in the Washington Post, suggested it’s not really Daylight Saving Time, it’s Daylight Shifting Time.
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Regardless of what one titles it, it’s still stupid. And, even referring to it as Daylight Shifting Time is not technically correct since the mere act of moving the hands of a clock (altering the display if you’re digital) does not alter the amount of daylight or darkness.
The act merely changes one’s concept of when daylight ceases or begins.
An individual could set his or her clock so the sun rises (another misnomer about the workings of the solar system) at 2 a.m., and doing so would have absolutely no effect on the rotation of the earth or the planet’s relation to the Sun.
After 100 years of playing with the clocks, the European Union may soon have a referendum on doing away with DST altogether. If the EU chooses to do so, that may leave the U.S. as one of the few civilized countries still adhering to this outlandish practice (like the U.S. is now one of only three countries still using the English system of measurement, including Liberia and Myanmar).
Steve Calandrillo, writing in The Conversation, an online academic journal, posits going to permanent DST would: save lives because, as he states it, “darkness kills;” decrease crime because darkness is a friend of crime; save energy, which was one of the original excuses for DST; cause recreation and commerce to flourish because fewer people are willing to go out shopping in the dark; and improve sleep because clocks wouldn’t be reset twice a year.
Well, the only one Calandrillo got right was the one about sleep. Virtually everyone who has ever complained about the bi-annual switch of time has done so by reviling the way their sleep pattern is interrupted by the change.
As for the other claims, Calandrillo seems not to understand the difference between simply moving clock hands forward or backward and the way seasons affect the amount of daylight the hemispheres get based on the axial tilt of the planet as it revolves around the sun.
U.S. Sen. Mark Rubio and U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan have each introduced legislation to make DST permanent in the U.S.
These bills follow a vote in the Florida legislature in 2017 to adopt year-round DST.
Sadly, none of these people get it.
While a movement to permanent DST will definitely make life much easier simply because people will no longer be changing their clocks twice a year, it doesn’t make a hill-of-beans difference what time the country adopts; all it does is change the perception of time.
Nature will continue to dictate precisely when daylight arrives and departs and we humans will continue to live with an artificial methodology of regulating our activities, unlike so many of our ancient forebears who gauged their activities by the effects of solar days and the changing seasons.
And, even if the U.S. proves intelligent enough to do away with DST, we will still be stuck with the polyglot time zone system which transverses the continent. But that’s a subject for a future column.
At least until Nov. 3 when the clocks get changed again.
Chuck Witt is a retired architect and a lifelong resident of Winchester. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.