Opinion: Let’s put an end to daylight savings time

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This started out a list of what concerns me about today’s internet technology, and the prospect of federal law that will regulate this global communication platform – but that took a backseat to the issue of Daylight Saving Time – and wondering how many people hate this twice yearly time change as much as I do.

A little history on Daylight Saving Time is reason enough for all of us to agree with Matt Schiavena’s article “It’s Time to Kill Daylight Saving Time” in the current issue of The Atlantic.  Schiavena reviews the Daylight Savings Time timeline starting with President Woodrow Wilson enacting the time change practice in the final days of World War I.  The purpose was to save energy with an extra hour of sunlight which would result in one less hour of energy consumption.

Schiavena noted that there’s no evidence that such occurs, and worse, the health effects offset any such savings notion.  He pointed to research that indicates the time change is linked to an increase in heart attacks and traffic accidents.

In addition, a 2009 Journal of Applied Psychology article reported that American workers are more prone to injuries in the workplace on the Monday following the changeover to Daylight Savings Time.  And, an ABC News report last week discussed the concerns of Dr. Alfred Lewy about how the time change produces a new “light-dark cycle” that interferes with the body’s circadian rhythm.  Lewy is director of Oregon Health and Science University’s Sleep and Mood Disorders Laboratory.

According to Alfred, “… the new light-dark cycle is perversely working against the body clock.”

That probably wasn’t a factor Benjamin Franklin considered when suggesting a similar time change strategy.  He is credited as being the first to suggest this energy saving proposition, although for him the concept involved saving “… a considerable number of candles.”

Energy saving has always been the goal of Daylight Saving Time, although farmers were often credited with the scheme.  Rachel Feltman, in the Washington Post’s March 6 edition, explained that farmers were actually big opponents of the time change because they lost an hour of morning light and had to rush to get goods to market.  Dairy farmers certainly weren’t advocates of screwing with time as cows apparently don’t gracefully suffer manmade time alterations – Mother Nature is apparently the best determiner of milking schedules.

As already noted, President Woodrow Wilson originally enacted what was alleged to be an energy-saving time change practice – but his action was repealed only seven months later.  Wilson’s attempt at time change was followed in 1942 when Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted Daylight Saving Time – then there was the Uniform Time Act of 1966; Daylight Saving Time was set to be observed from the last Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October.  The Energy Policy Act of 2005 changed the schedule to the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November.

According to Feldman’s “Five Myths About Daylight Saving Time,” all this work to schedule this energy-saving period hasn’t produced the desired result.  She points out that there’s no evidence to suggest that there are any energy savings gains, beyond paltry reductions in usage – and an Indiana study showed there was actually more energy usage.

Another myth discredited by Feldman … Daylight Saving Time benefits business.  While she agrees that the grill and charcoal industries are obviously advocates of having an extra hour a day for outdoor cooking, the American airline industry probably doesn’t share in such support.   Matching up airline schedules with those of countries and states (Hawaii and Arizona) that don’t participate in our twice annual change to and from Daylight Saving Time is probably a headache this industry could easily forego.  Although many countries do participate in Daylight Saving Time, 160 countries around the world don’t participate – including those in Asia, Africa and South America.

Finally, Feldman makes a definitive point for this crazy twice a year time change:  We are on Daylight Saving Time for eight months, and Standard Time for four months of each year.

“In what universe does that make sense?” Feldman asks.

“ … Daylight Saving Time is an annual tradition whose time has passed,” asserts Schiavenza.

They are both right, and chances are most Americans agree with them.  It’s time to pick a time that we can live with 12 months of the year and stick with it.

Marty Carlson is a columnist for the BPT. She may be reached at martycarlson1218@gmail.com