Hating on daylight savings

This morning all of us in the U.S just put our clocks back an hour. Daylight Savings Time.

Okay, I haven’t done any research on Daylight Savings Time except read articles like the two Atlantic ones I’m writing about in this post. But yet, experience has told me that DST pretty much stinks. Aside from the obvious complaints about losing an hour and the darkness (oh the terrible morning darkness!) here are a couple of annoyances I’ve experienced of late:

1) To PDT or PST, that is the question. For work when I’m creating events I hate having to figure out whether it’s Pacific Daylight Time or Pacific Standard Time. And even when it’s Pacific Daylight Time, I just kinda resent using PDT.

My alarm clock includes a 'smart' feature automatically adjusting for DST. It was purchased pre-2007, pre- George W. Bush era DST changes.

Dumb ‘smart’ clock automatically adjusts to pre-2007 DST.

2) I have an alarm clock I bought in the 1990s some time. At the time it was oh-so-smart because it automatically adjusted for DST. But when George W. changed the dates for Daylight Savings starting in 2007, my smart clock became a hazard to prompt arrivals. Now on random days in April and October, I wake up to the wrong time. I’m pretty sure this is the year Matt’s going to chuck that alarm clock.

3) This morning, my toddler was up at 5am, formerly known as 6am. We’ll be paying for that all day.

4) As I age, these things hit me harder: hangovers, jet lag and Daylight freaking Standard Time.

The Atlantic is hating on Daylight Savings with two, count ’em, two posts on the topic.

For The Atlantic Wire, Alexander Abad-Santos is so p.o.’d about Daylight Savings Time he’s calling it ‘America’s Greatest Shame.’ DST’s biggest benefit is supposed to be energy savings and he’s calling b.s.:

A large push for DST has always been the idea that this time warp saved money and helped conserve energy. In the 1970s the energy crisis helped further this notion along. This is all a myth — the energy saving are tiny. First off, did you notice any change in your energy bills between 2006-2008? I know that recalling electricity bills is asking a lot, but the reason I ask is that we actually extended DST by a month in 2007. The thought was that a month of DST would bring more savings.

That was wrong. The great energy-sucking state of California actually studied the impact of that extension and found it wanting. “Formally, weather- and lighting-corrected savings from DST were estimated at 0.18%,”reported the California Energy Commission.

He also says that it’s bad for our health and for the economy.

For Quartz, Allison Shrager strongly protests DST (for all the same reasons Abed-Santos does) and goes even further with a bold suggestion. Not only do away with DST, but do away with two of the four U.S. (mainland) timezones:

It sounds radical, but it really isn’t. The purpose of uniform time measures is coordination. How we measure time has always evolved with the needs of commerce. According to Time and Date, a Norwegian Newsletter dedicated to time zone information, America started using four time zones in 1883. Before that, each city had its own time standard based on its calculation of apparent solar time (when the sun is directly over-head at noon) using sundials. That led to more than 300 different American time zones. This made operations very difficult for the telegraph and burgeoning railroad industry. Railroads operated with 100 different time zones before America moved to four, which was consistent with Britain’s push for a global time standard. The following year, at the International Meridian Conference, it was decided that the entire world could coordinate time keeping based on the British Prime Meridian (except for France, which claimed the Prime Median ran through Paris until 1911). There are now 24 (or 25, depending on your existential view of the international date line) time zones, each taking about 15 degrees of longitude. Now the world has evolved further—we are even more integrated and mobile, suggesting we’d benefit from fewer, more stable time zones. Why stick with a system designed for commerce in 1883?

I admit, I kind of adore that idea as a West Coaster with family in the East. Shall we start a movement?


One thought on “Hating on daylight savings

  1. Interesting post! I never really thought of the rationale of DST or its consequences. I’ve always kind of liked how it trips me up and makes me recalibrate my relationship to time.

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