Daylight Saving Time – Is it Really Necessary?

As requested, I will now present you with the logic of Daylight Saving Time, and arguments for whether or not it’s necessary. Of my 10-15 loyal readers here, I’m sure at least 9 of you are used to Daylight Saving Time, and having to turn your clocks forward and backwards during the year. Just recently DST ended for us, and we are back to Standard Time. But why the hell is it really necessary?

Apart from the Salvador Dalli-esque clock, what is wrong with this comic? If people don’t turn their clocks back, nothing bad would happen. That’s right! In fact, a very large portion of the world doesn’t follow DST. Either they don’t feel it’s necessary, or it’s against their religion, or perhaps that the Black Hole in the Sky will only eat the DST folks instead. But I digress…

Daylight Saving Time, though thought about prior to it being put forward in its current form, was independently proposed by two people: George Vernon Hudson in 1895, and William Willett in 1905. Both had similar beliefs about the benefit of having DST—if you turn the clocks forward an hour, you can have daylight hours extended later in the “day” for humans, so that it gets dark at a later time. Notice I did not yet mention Benjamin Franklin, who many will tell you invented or first conceived of DST. This is not fully accurate—when in France, Franklin realized that in order to save candles, the Parisians should stop being lazy bastards and wake up earlier in the day to utilize the morning sunlight. I think that’s basically something many parents have been telling their teenagers for years now…clearly it hasn’t helped much.

Let’s examine this now from a more scientific (FINALLY! I was a little worried) standpoint and see what happens. Due to the tilt of the Earth, we experience different amounts of sunlight each day depending on what day it is. We experience the maximum amount of sunlight during summer, and the least during the winter. Typically, we end up having daylight earlier in the day without DST—so if you want to experience the sun, you have to wake up early….something many people refuse to do, no matter how much you nag them. But that’s not necessarily true for the entire Earth. The Earth is round, and so the effect of having different daylight lengths not only applies to what day it is, but what latitude you’re at. Someone at the equator will always have 12 hours of daylight, and 12 of darkness. The farther away you get from the equator, the greater the difference becomes—at the poles themselves, you basically have seasons that are almost completely with or without sunlight. So DST only really works for part of the globe, and is only nice if you like waking up later (or having daylight later in the day).

Advocates claim that you save energy because of DST. Originally in the days of candles and oil lamps, it was true, more daylight meant less energy wasted. But nowadays, it’s not really true. While we have our lights on less often if it’s light out, if it’s still daytime later on the summer evenings, people are more likely to run their air conditioning after they get home from work, offsetting the gain, and according to some studies, causing more wasted energy. People who dislike DST will tell you (and rightly so) that it can seriously plague the transportation industry, because it can become a complete mess on the days we set our clocks to a different hour. It can mess up schedules for trains and planes, and even more so because not every place employs DST. According to , Amtrak has its issues: “To keep to their published timetables, trains cannot leave a station before the scheduled time. So, when the clocks fall back one hour in October, all Amtrak trains in the U.S. that are running on time stop at 2:00 a.m. and wait one hour before resuming. Overnight passengers are often surprised to find their train at a dead stop and their travel time an hour longer than expected. At the spring Daylight Saving Time change, trains instantaneously become an hour behind schedule at 2:00 a.m., but they just keep going and do their best to make up the time.”

Even in the United States, states are not required to follow DST, and some don’t. Arizona does not follow DST. Interestingly, the Navajo Nation does follow it, and the Hopi reservation in Arizona, completely surrounded by the Navajo, does not. This means that there is an area in Arizona that does follow DST, and it’s shaped like a donut! YUM!

Personally, I think Daylight Saving Time is bullshit, but it may have benefits that are untestable. I mean, I also like when it’s dark out, especially being able to experience sunlight in the morning to wake me up. What do you guys think?

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