11 March 2012


Ah, here we go again.  Today marks the beginning of Daylight Saving Time, that artificial and unnecessary manipulation of our clocks which alters our sleep schedules so that we experience sunrise and sunset an hour "later" each day during the DST interval ~ from March 11 to November 4 in 2012. The rationale for setting clocks forward, then backward, has always seemed specious to me.  The main benefit is to retail sales, outdoor sports, and other post-working-hour activities, while disrupting activities such as farming, transportation, and indoor recreation.  Claims of energy savings and reduction in crime have never been substantiated.

DST has an inconsistent history in the U.S.  It was imposed nationally during World War I and World War II, but during all other years the observance was left to individual state and local decision.  All that changed in 1966, when the federal Uniform Time Act established an ongoing national standard for DST, to begin on the last Sunday in April and end on the last Sunday in October (6 months).  The specific start and end dates were again arbitrarily altered in 2007. DST now begins on the second Sunday in March, and ends on the first Sunday of November (8 months).

For twenty years of my life, I was spared the artifice of DST while living in Arizona, one of only two states which currently do not observe DST (the other being Hawaii).  It is so much more natural to know that when the sun is at its zenith in the sky, the time is noon, not 1 p.m.  In those few instances when I had to mentally adjust to accomodate someone living out of state, the calculation was as easy as it is for any difference in time zones.  

Note ~ only a minority of nations observe DST.  Click on the map above - DST is observed by those nations shown in blue, most of which are developed nations.

My personal bias (as you might guess) is to abolish Daylight Savings Time altogether, and return to accommodating our activities to standardized time zones determined by solar time.  Alas, mine is but one voice crying out in the wilderness.  Here's an idea ~ why not graduate from changing clocks to changing calendars?  Why not pretend that the current arrangement of months in the year could somehow be improved by declaring that spring begins in February and ends in October, with one month each for the other seasons?  If we are to deal in artifice, rather than in the measurement and observance of the seasons and the weather, just think what an emotional boost it would be if spring lasted for nine months of the year ~ just slightly longer than DST lasts now?  Just don't tell all the plants and animals who don't read clocks or calendars.  They'll never know the difference.

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