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Saturday, November 6, 2010

7 Reasons to give up Daylight Saving Time

In Hawaii, they get to just wake up tomorrow as though it is any other day.  They get to walk right by every clock in their house without a second thought.  They will waste not one minute of their day listening to others remark stupidly “God, it feels so much later than four o'clock”.  They get to carry on as though it is nothing but an ordinary Sunday. 

As if there weren't enough reasons to be jealous of Hawaiians.

This is because there is plenty of sunlight to go around in Hawaii and thus they see no need to join the rest of the country in their annual futile attempts at temporal manipulation.  They happily forego daylight saving time and instead rely on the proven tactic of letting time do it’s own thing.

I’ve mentioned my aversion to daylight saving time before but I feel it worth elaborating.  I can’t help but think of future generations looking back on this custom much the way we look back on things like medicinal leeching and scholarly articles on sea monsters.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to the extra hour of sleep as much as you are, but I’ll be spending at least some of that hour reflecting on what we have to go through to make it happen:

 #1) It doesn’t actually save energy 

There are a number of different stated purposes for daylight saving time, but none of them check out against the facts.  For decades it was really difficult to measure things like energy savings because there was never an adequate control sample when it came to springing forward and falling back.  This problem was alleviated in 2005 when Indiana passed a state law standardizing daylight savings time throughout the state.

For a moment, consider the insanity in that statement.  Until 2005, the various counties in Indiana made up there own rules regarding DST.  It would start on different dates in different counties and in some counties they simply didn’t do it at all.  This meant that a person could very easily live in an area that didn’t do DST and work in an area that did.  This meant that as you drove through the state your cell phone might reset the hour a half dozen times.

Indiana, circa 2004

In 2005 the people of Indiana had enough of the confusion and worked to compel every county to a universal standard.  Among the many benefits of this action was that it finally provided researchers an effective control sample to test the theories about energy savings during DST.  They could simply compare energy usage in homes in the counties that didn’t follow the insanity in 2004 to their 2005 usage and see what kind of savings we were really getting from the whole ordeal.

What they found was that there are no energy savings.  The idea was that people would not have to turn their lights on for an extra hour and thus they would use less power overall.  While that is probably true, being awake an hour earlier usually means that the AC is going on a little earlier and that more than offsets the meager savings from a few less light bulbs.

 #2) It doesn’t actually reduce crime 

Another ridiculous myth that supporters of DST tout is the idea that it reduces crime.  When they explain it, it makes sense all the way from your ear to your brain.  Once your gray matter gets a crack at their claims they seem to lose a bit of their punch.  They tell you that most crime occurs at night and if the streets are filled with sunlight for an extra hour, that is one fewer hour for crime to occur.

It passes the first logical test in that the statement has nouns and verbs and whatnot, but that’s as close as it comes to making sense.  First of all, criminals aren’t scheduled.  The 7 to 8 muggers won’t just see a drop off in their take.  They’ll start mugging a little later in the evening.  Secondly, early dusk isn’t usually the target time for criminals anyway.  Most street crime that occurs after dark happens around midnight or later.  It is not evenly spaced throughout the evening.  Midnight is no more or less dark if we set our clocks back by an hour.

Pictured: Dark

This argument falls apart for the same reason most pro-DST apologies fail; regardless of our manipulation, there will still be the same number of hours of sunlight.  It really doesn’t matter where we put the hour hand because the sun isn’t paying the damnedest lick of attention to our clocks.

 #3) We have more clocks now 

There was a time when the routine of daylight saving probably entailed winding back two mantle clocks and a pocket watch.  It was relatively easy back then because most clocks could simply be manipulated from the face.  You could just make a full revolution with the minute hand, check it against your pocket watch and be done with it.

Now everything in your home has a clock.  Go count the clocks in your kitchen.  If it’s fewer than 4 you’re below average.  There’s probably one on your stove, one on your microwave, one on your coffee maker and, ironically, one on your wall as well.  There might even be one on your fridge.  If you’re anything like me, they don’t even agree on what time it is.
It's harder on some than others.

Resetting those clocks is no simple matter.  Digital clock manufacturers never bothered to standardize the practice so you’ll probably need to dig out the instruction manual on at least one of those appliances.  Either that or you can use the tried and true method of pushing buttons at random until something starts to blink.  If you take this option, remember to push random buttons in conjunction as well.  There’s not always a clear path to resetting the time.

To further confuse the issue, more and more clocks are programmed to automatically reset for daylight savings time.  Just so nobody thought this was meant as a convenience, the clock won’t tell you that it reset itself.  Instead it will leave you to wonder.  Did the cable box reset?  Did your iphone reset?  They both have the same time on them but is that because they’re both right or because they’re both wrong?

 #4) Screwing with people’s sleep has side effects 

Sleep deprivations sucks so bad it is used as a mode of torture.  Even the run of the mill sleep deprivation that we all go through by combining a social life with a pathological need to catch every episode of the Ice Road Truckers marathon can take a serious physical and mental toll.

Sleep expert and person with the most ironic surname outside of comic book villainy Dr. Phyllis Zee warns that the shift back to regular time can wreak havoc on the psyche.  Even worse is the horror of losing the hour of sleep and being even surlier than usual once a year.  It takes most people 3 to 5 days to fully recover from the jolt to their schedule and many of them were already jackasses before we went screwing with their beauty sleep.

Pictured: Jackasses.

 #5) Winter already sucks bad enough 

Now that daylight saving time has been expanded to fill up the majority of the year, the once joyous occasion of sleeping in an hour later is diluted by the knowledge that night will come that much quicker.  It’s bad enough to watch the daylight shrink a few minutes a day, but when sunset suddenly goes from 6 o’clock to 5 it’s enough to make you crazy. 

The very fact that we set the clocks back to their normal positions at all makes the whole ordeal of DST seem disingenuous.  If we need an extra hour of daylight in the summer, certainly we need it at least as much in winter, right?  The roads are worse, the criminals are more desperate and we use more energy.  If any of their farcical arguments held water you would think we should fall forward and spring back.

 #6) It kills people 

Somehow I feel like I’m burying the lead here.  There is a death toll associated with daylight saving time and that certainly trumps things like having too many clocks in the kitchen.  For several days after the spring change over, a spike in accidents can be measured all over the country.  Traffic accidents go up slightly but the severity of those accidents tends to go up even more.

But the deaths are not limited to traffic accidents.  Many people don’t realize how long the loss of an hour stays with them through the day.  Most of us are out of sorts for at least the whole morning and much of the afternoon and it doesn’t clear up in one day.  This is evident in the modest rise in industrial accidents and a more noteworthy spike in severity of those accidents as well.

And some of the accidents are even worse than this.

You’ll note that I’ve been careful to use words like modest and slight to describe this death toll.  While the data is yet inconclusive, it is probably true that DST modestly reduces traffic accidents through the summer months.  This probably offsets any lost life due to the spike in accidents immediately following the change over, but it certainly doesn't make the whole thing into a good idea.

 #7) It makes no sense 

If I was trying to save digital paper, I would have started and ended with one simple statement: Daylight saving time is an assault on reason.

Consider the problem that we were tackling here.  We were all having trouble waking up in the morning, so we moved morning forward a bit.  Of course, we could have simply started waking up earlier and going to bed earlier.  This would have had the same effect without forcing our ineptitude on unsuspecting college students who try to sleep until two in the afternoon irrespective of season.  Time cannot be legislated.  The sun does not obey us and pretending that it does makes us seem at least a tad bit insane.

We should also consider the dangerous precedent we set by allowing politicians to manipulate our clocks.  In Britain there is a push to modify daylight savings time by simply not moving the clocks back to their original position and still moving them back and forth twice a year.  That’s right, they want to set the clocks back an additional hour permanently, but still do daylight savings time.  This way the summer clocks will be two hours away from the actual time and the sun will never be overhead at noon.

Do I really need to convince you that people
who eat this are known for having bad ideas?

But where will it all end?  Will politicians start campaigning on a 25 hours day and Wednesday-free weeks?  Will we just keep setting our clocks forward and never set them back?  Hell, if we follow it through to its logical conclusion we could set our clocks back once an hour and never have to worry about being late again.

Or we could just wake up.

Aaron Davies

Sometimes the stupid burns my eyes... if you know the feeling, subscribe to our RSS feed and I promise to be pissed off for you.

1 comment:

  1. "Resetting those clocks is no simple matter" - Really? You must be over 40 lol