Daylight Saving Time: A Brief History and Argument Against

Once again I am faced with the need to adjust my body to an arbitrary jump in time. Daylight Saving Time began yesterday. For whatever reason it takes me a week at least to adjust. If I am travelling during that week the jump in time zones throws me off even more. Sometimes it is close to three weeks before I feel normal again.

Since I am still out of whack this morning, I decided to do some research. The information out on the internet is rather interesting so I will provide some sources at the bottom. Some of the various websites were misleading through omission of facts. The biggest culprits will be left off the bibliography.

A Brief History

The best information came from a website founded in 1995. Timeanddate.com was complete in their discussion. They even discussed Ben Franklin’s idea that the Parisian’s needed to get out of bed earlier. However, the first formal proposal of Daylight Saving Time was a proposal in 1895 by George Vernon Hudson. He worked in a New Zealand Post Office by day. Hudson posited a two-hour change during the warmer months. His motivation was bugs. The extra two hours would allow him time after his day job to collect insects for scientific study.

In 1906 a British builder, William Willett wrote Waste of Daylight proposing to change the time over a series of weeks by 20 minutes at a time. This effort was criticized by many. Just imagine the difficulties! However, in my case it might work better for adaptation. The British defeated a bill to make the change shortly thereafter.

First locale

The first known location to establish a change was an area in Canada now known as Thunder Bay. This occurred in 1908. Other areas in Canada adopted the time change over the next few years. However, the first countries to adopt the time change were Germany and Austria during World War I. This took place April 30, 1916. Other countries in Europe quickly copied the effort. The switch back to Standard time followed the resolution of the conflict.

World War II brought back the use of Daylight Savings Time. In the United States the time change was known as War Time. After the war ended, America once again ceased observing the custom as a nation. Individual states and even cities set their own guidelines of what clock to use. This resulted in a bit of chaos for travelers.

Uniform Time Act

The Uniform Time Act eased some of the conflict. The United States Congress passed this Act in 1966. The ruling established a uniform time for the change. Daylight Savings began the last Sunday in April and ran until the last Sunday in October. However, states were allowed to opt out and stay on Standard Time.

Over the years, some changes were made to the original act. For example, in 1972 Congress allowed States with multiple time zones to have part of the State opt out. Also occurring in the early 1970’s was a yearlong adoption of Daylight Saving Time as a reaction to the 1973 Energy Crisis. In 1986, Congress moved the start of Daylight Saving Time to the first Sunday in April. The beginning was moved even earlier in the year to the second Sunday in March by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. This same action also moved the end of the time period to the first Sunday in November.

Currently, Hawaii and most of Arizona use Standard time exclusively. For both it is a matter of existing amounts of Daylight. Just last week, the Florida legislature voted to keep to one time clock per year. But, in Florida’s case they must get approval from the Federal Government.

Will Florida join the club?

Since Florida would like to remain on Daylight Saving Time so to abandon the changing of times it needs approval to change to the Atlantic Time Zone. This seems a bit convoluted, but apparently it is easier to remake Time Zones. The Uniform Time Act would not need an amendment. Furthermore, the Western most counties in Florida are currently in the Central Time Zone. These residents will have a big adjustment. There are many factors in this decision. As of this writing, the Sunshine Protection Act is awaiting Governor Rick Scott’s signature.

If the Sunshine Protection Act becomes law, there are two ways for the State of Florida to win approval from the Federal Government. The first is through Congressional action. This method is not often used. The more likely scenario is the second method of change. The U.S. Secretary of Transportation has the authority to change time zones. It is interesting to note in the actual Florida Bill that the state legislators include wording that would preserve the law in the event the United States Congress amended the Time Act to allow for the Daylight Saving option. I am unsure if Florida would then choose to revert to Eastern Time.

Against Time Change

From my personal standpoint, I think my body would fare better I a state without an arbitrary time change. I do not own an alarm clock. Nature wakes me up. However, I know that is not a feasible approach for many. The change to Daylight Saving acts as jet lag on my body. Both the spring and fall changes have a negative impact. So losing an hour is not the culprit.

I can appreciate the desire after a long winter to have daylight at the end of the work day. But the change really affects my productivity levels. In some years, I think I lose about a month to this time change lag. In my case staying with just one time would increase output. I don’t have a preference between Standard and Daylight Saving.

Perhaps I identify with the Amish. In the winter I find inside work appealing and probably sleep a bit longer. In the summer, I follow the sunlight. As the sun rises earlier and earlier, I follow the advice of Ben Franklin and get out of bed earlier. Gardening occurs in the cool of the mornings and evenings. Sleep is shorter and perhaps deeper after a long day.

Studies back both views

Many arguments abound for bouncing the hours back and forth. Some studies show fewer accidents. Others a drop in suicide. One article by Web M.D. suggests the adjustment period is only a day. Unfortunately, my body doesn’t agree with that. On the bright side I know I am not a candidate for time travel. Someone else will have to be the guinea pig for that experiment.

I tend to favor the arguments against changing the clocks. Studies in Indiana which did not fully adopt the change until this century indicate little savings. A decrease in lights used was offset by an increase in air conditioning. The real worrier for me is the increase in heart attacks the first few days after springing forward. As I said before my body gets out of whack. I don’t like messing with Mother Nature.

My body really struggles with the time change and if it worsens I may need to relocate. I do have Hawaii, and Arizona on my list of preferred states just because of their common sense approach to the time change. If Florida is successful, they will join the list. This would only happen in an extreme case-like a heart attack scare coinciding with the time change.

I have a long list of references below. Other sites were deleted from the list for their glaring errors. I certainly don’t want to fall into the trap of believing everything I read on the Internet. Nor do I want to be accused of issuing Fake News.  I think you will enjoy reading some of the articles listed below if you have some spare time.

Website Sources

https://www.timeanddate.com/time/dst/history.html

https://www.timeanddate.com/time/us/indiana-time.html

https://www.timeanddate.com/time/us/daylight-saving-usa.html

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/09/daylight-savings-time-history-george-vernon-hudson_n_1333378.html

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160310-the-builder-who-changed-how-the-world-keeps-time

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/03/0330_040330_daylightsavings_2.html

http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2018/1013/BillText/er/PDF

https://www.transportation.gov/regulations/time-act

https://www.transportation.gov/regulations/procedure-moving-area-one-time-zone-another

http://www.webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/e.html

https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/coping-with-time-changes

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/11/131101-when-does-daylight-savings-time-end-november-3-science/

 

 

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