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MARCH 12, 2009 1:56AM

Daylight Savings Time is a big, fat scam

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Can someone explain to me the point of Daylight Savings Time (DST)?    It has got to be the most pointless ritual in modern times.

I grew up in Arizona, where DST is not practiced.  I had no idea what the rest of you put up with for no apparent reason until I moved to Seattle.  Every year in March...or is it April?...I lose an hour of sleep and it takes at least two weeks for my body to readjust.  I screw up some appointment on the Sunday the clocks get turned back, wait no, ahead.

Then there's the fact that DST exacerbates the main downside of living in Seattle: the lack of sunlight.  Turning the clock back means our sunset gets moved from 5pm to 4pm through December and January.  Those of you rolling your eyes just don't appreciate how much that hour of sun can do to a person.  Let's be honest, we all care about sunset than sunrise (when most of us are still asleep).  Seattle has a notorious suicide rate, and the highest incidence of MS in the country...could it be the lack of Vitamin D?

All of the theories behind DST fall flat on one basic premise: if it's good to extend daylight, then it's not good to limit it.  If anything, the order of things should be reversed so the daylight hours are steadier throughout the year.  By falling ahead and springing back, the sunset would be closer to the same time all year.  Sure, someone would have to come up with a new catchy phrase to remember what to do but otherwise, why isn't it done that way?

According to Wikipedia, the man we can thank for proposing modern DST didn't like cutting his golf game short due to dusk after taking an afternoon nap.  This is why he wanted summer clocks pushed ahead.  Does William Willett represent a large swath of the population?  
On further research, it appears we can thank lobbyists for big business (retail and sports, mostly) for making DST a permanent part of life for most Americans in 1966, after being softened on the idea through a few short-lived trials during wartime earlier in the century.  Which means it's all part of the military-industrial complex.  I knew it!

Some folks in Seattle actually like DST, because it means sunset doesn't come until about 9pm in July.  These are usually the northwestern folks who enjoy composting, but their opinion counts too!  For this reason, my preferred solution is to leave the clocks as is, and never fall back again.  Besides, all of the 'pros' for DST, if true, means we're choosing to only enjoy those perks half of the year.

So who's with me?

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I've been living in Japan for the past nine years and I haven't missed Daylight Savings Time a bit. America imposed Daylight Savings Time on Japan during the Occupation. The instant the Americans returned control to the local government, Daylight Savings Time went right out the window.
I hate it both times of year, for different reasons. Excellent post. Going to bed now, at my usual hour, roughtly 10:45...except it's almost midnight, which sucks!
I actually didn't mind it before - when it was a short-term summer thing, but somehow it got extended in the last few years. Time to write your Congressional reps.
If you live in a place with huge swings in summer and winter day length, you really appreciate daylight savings time.

To demonstrate:
On March 28th in Moscow, the sun will rise at 6:11am and set at 6:59pm.
On March 29, after the clocks spring forward, the sun will rise at 7:08 am and set at 8:01. For most people, that is an extra hour of daylight.
On June 22, the sun will rise at 4:45 am and set at 10:18pm. If there was no daylight savings time, the sun would rise and set an hour early. Again, I think more people will use the daylight between 9:18 and 10:18 than between 3:45am and 4:45am.

But, switch to winter. On Dec 21, the sun rose at 8:58 and set at 3:58. Move that an hour earlier (as in permanent DST) and you get the sun setting before kids walk home from school. No afters chool daylight hours.

On February 16th, the sun rose at 7:52 and set at 5:36, shift that an hour earlier and you get kids straggling home from school (or after school activities) in the dark.

So, it's clear, in Moscow the semi-annual clock shift gives us an hour more sun. Maybe it doesn't in Seattle.

But, there's a lot to be said for having fewer time zones and clock changes. Who wants to fix their watch every 200 miles?

I note Seattle loses an hour of sunlight between 6:30 and 7:30 am with DST and gains it between 6 and 7PM. In the middle of December, the sun rose at 7:55 and set at 4:20. Not changing the clock would put kids walking home from school in the dark.

Actually, since I bothered to look up the time, I got a little annoyed. A quick check of the times of sunrise and sunset explains why Daylight Savings Time is a feature of most Northern Hemisphere developed countries.

In short, look at the damned data.

I think you got your math backwards. If you shifted the clock forwards an hour year round, or permanent DST, the sun will rise and set an hour "later". So, for your Moscow example, the sun would rise at 9:58 and set at 4:58. Since on standard time the sun would be rising at 8:58, kids are going to school in the dark already so nothing really lost there and you can have your extra hour in the evening.

Oh, but the cows will get confused...
Malusinka, I really appreciated your post. Looking at the data is something that isn't done often enough!

However, having lived here for many years I can emphatically tell you you're wrong. An hour of sunlight might be gained in the morning when most are still asleep, but kids are not walking home from school (which ends around 3pm) in the dark.

I think as you get further from the equator DST makes less and less sense. Maybe folks in Los Angeles barely notice, but it only exacerbates an existing lack of sunlight in the Northwest.

The whole DST thing really came home right after I moved here, when I had to work two jobs in order to pay the exorbitant rent. Leaving a job at 5pm to start my second one, in the dark, made for a very depressing winter.

Funny how all of my Phoenix buddies thought I was crazy to move to rainy Seattle, but not one warned me about the darkness.
Most of my life I endured DST, but now I live in AZ, and enjoy when my family on the east coast has no idea what time it is where I live.
I despise Daylight Savings Time -- more asinine idea EVER. Tweaking the clocks?!? Who dreams this stuff up? LEAVE TIME ALONE. You want to get up early, be my guest. I do not want two weeks worth of jet lag annually.
Ben Franklin came up with the idea.

There are two basic reasons according to what I heard from an expert. One it saves energy because the hours of light are adjusted to the time when most people are up and thus cuts down on the need for electricity. And two it gives you more daylight hours in the summer for outdoor activities such as yard, garden, and farming.

These are good things if the experts are correct. Sure it messes up our internal clocks (especially if you have very defined sleep patterns) but, if it is best for the general population then the individual must deal with the fact the sun does not set and rise on them alone.
I am SO with you! Viva la revolution!
I hate DST. It doesn't work very well in the Anchorage area. I don't understand why we don't ignore it, like in Arizona.
It was okay when it was 6 months of this, 6 months of that.
Now it's all off balance and I hate it.
I also hate DST and think it makes no sense. It seems that the older I get, the longer it takes me to adjust to the new time.
I would love to never fall back again. I like the idea of a "later" sunset. I don't like the whole 'go to work in the dark, come home in the dark' of falling back. But really, the whole thing is extremely annoying and irritating.
I, too, despise DST... but I think you may be considering it backwards at one point there. We're under DST during the summer months, not the winter months. So if we eliminated it, you wouldn't get an extra hour of sunlight in the winter evenings, you would lose an hour of sunlight in the summer evenings.
Having spent 12 years in Indiana where Daylight Savings was not practiced (until the governor forced through a bill which screwed a lot of people up and caused a huge fuss over whether they should be EST or CST) life was easier. No changing the clocks twice a year, it was wonderful.

So why do we do it? For the farmers? They work for themselves - let them set their alarm clocks to get up earlier/later and leave the rest of us alone. For the schools so the kids can go to school in daylight? Great - but it means they come home in the dark. Just change the school hours, it's a whole lot easier.

Have you considered the effect that Daylight Savings has on international business and travel? Usually Europe is 5 hours behind EST. As of last Sunday it's now 4 hours, since they don't change their clocks until the end of March. And then it goes back to 5 hours. This really affects doing business with other countries, having to know the local time if you are going to call a contact.

And then my real pet peeve, the airline timetables. Do you know how complicated this makes them? They have to change the times of thousands of international flights numerous times a year, just because the relative times change between countries.

It's absolutely crazy in my opinion. A far far easier solution would be to change the hours that people worked, if it was necessary.

If I had my way, I don't care if I go to work in the dark or not, but to have an extra hour of daylight when I get home in the evening - that's precious!
I love DST...hate to be the contrarian here...but I have absolutely no complaints and don't really even notice the lost or gained hour...except to note that I have more daylight at the end of the work day to actually take a long bike ride or walk or hike later in the day.
I love DST more time for the sun to shine, more time after work to do my thing in the daytime. No driving home from work and watching the sun set. I can live with losing one hour every year in order to gain all those hours of useful sunlight.
i could tell you what our tenth grade chemistry teacher (okay he actually was a student teacher doing his practicum to earn his teaching degree) told us when we asked repeatedly 'what's up with DST'...the earth is tilted on its axis (and it rotates in an elliptical pattern around the sun as versus a perfect circle) and to come up with 365 days in the year you need to adjust time slightly (he tried to explain to us that if the earth sat perfectly on an axis and rotated in a perfect 360 circle there would be no need to adjust our clocks)....we didn't buy it cause we wanted to know then 'why is there a leap year...if february always had 28 days we could address this time problem without falling back or leaping forward every year'....needless to say he asked to be 'reassigned' after a few weeks of this conversation...

Of course even if i wanted to 'believe' this whole 'science-y' reason, the fact the gov't moved up DST by two weeks a few years ago kinda discredits it (the reasoning was to save energy - i guess it was a greening of the mindset. how energy is saved... i'm again not clear on.).

If something like Daylight savings time is something you're spending enough time thinking about to write a blog, instead of just drinking a beer and shouting a commiseratory "F' Daylight Savings Time!" to the gods of inebriation.....then perhaps you need to re-evaluate some life priorities.

It's not that big a deal.

Jokes, jokes......sort of.

In a more realistic tone, I dig DST, it makes every hellacious winter in Minnesota seem a little more bearable in a light at the end of the tunnel sort of way. For a guy that wakes up at noon everyday, it's heaven-sent.
ohhh, and as a P.S. to HipHopSays' comment....there is science behind it.

Just as there is a science behind leap years, and yes, leap seconds.

Read Newscientist.com It's fun, I promise :D
DST gives you those awesomely long summer evenings, where you can be at the beach till 9pm, and a day at the beach sorta natually turns into a night-time party. It's a trade off, obviously. Oh, and for the time it's in effect, it means more daylight during most people's waking hours, so it saves electricity. Or at least is supposed to.
M Todd

I've always heard about the extra hour for the farmers. Funny, but growing up in a farming area, the farmers I knew all worked from sun up to sun down. It didn't matter what time the clock said it was, the worked sun up to sun down.
DST is a joke. So I have to point out 2 of the greatest mistakes we make.

It's not Smokey the Bear, it's just Smokey Bear.

It's not Daylight Savings Time, it's just Daylight Saving Time.

I know, who cares.
I'm commenting before I even read this. Yes. Yes. Yes. Let's all revolt.
Wow, thx for all the comments! This must have struck a nerve, if so write to your state governments, as they have the power to stop being sheep and follow the examples of AZ and HI.

To all of those that love that extra time in the summer, I understand. But wintertime is when that hour would be really nice to have. Not sure about the rest of the country, but in Seattle even without DST summer sunset would be around 8pm.

It's like giving $$ to the rich when the poor guy is standing right there!

And TheMix, you're the one who spent time reading it. LOL
up here many years ago..the provincial government, in an attempt to change the subject from a huge scandal, decided to institute something they called double daylight savings time - meaning that you move your clocks TWO hours ahead

and it worked - for the next several months it was all anyone talked about

and i swear this is true - on a local open line radio show a yokel called in saying he supported the proposal on account of it being good for the crops - those "extra" two hours of sunlight

The following paragraph means that you really support DST:
"Then there's the fact that DST exacerbates the main downside of living in Seattle: the lack of sunlight. Turning the clock back means our sunset gets moved from 5pm to 4pm through December and January. "

In December and January, you are on Standard time, not on Daylight savings time. You are criticizing Standard time, not DST in that paragraph.

While you think you are against DST, you are actually for it.

"If I had my way, I don't care if I go to work in the dark or not, but to have an extra hour of daylight when I get home in the evening - that's precious!"

I get that extra hour of daylight during DST (which started on Sunday). If not for DST, I wouldn't have that hour, nor would you.
I'm with Ykdeli and tijo. I prefer DST, and wouldn't mind living permanently on DST. I have no problem trading waking up in the dark for a few weeks, for the extra hour of outdoor recreation time in the evening during those weeks.

That said, I don't think DST actually saves any money. IMHO, it just increases quality of life for us cubicle workers.
To be clear, what I'm actually against is moving the clocks. I may be 34, but sleep-wise I've always been a senior citizen due to hypothyroidism.

It is impossible to feel rested, regardless of how many hours are spent asleep. And losing that hour really does take two weeks to adjust to, unfortunately.

If we stayed on DST year-round that would be preferable, as that 'extra' hour of daylight would be here in the winter when my spirit craves it. Moving the clock back and witnessing the depressed mood that falls over my city that very day is, well, depressing.

But leaving the clocks alone means we're not on DST at all, just adjusting the definition of Standard Time. Fine with me.
"And TheMix, you're the one who spent time reading it. LOL"

Unemployment is phenomenally boring.

In the summer the days are longer, and shifting back puts more of the prime time of daylight for most people. Who knows maybe Ben Franklin was a big golf nut and just made up the stuff about farmers.