SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 5: Enjoy an extra hour in the day today—and don’t forget turn your clocks backward!
Daylight Savings Time (DST) 2017 ends today, but the world is far from agreement on its benefits—or its future as a public policy. Many experts argue that switching back and forth from DST is a poor public policy and may cost more money than it saves. The U.S. history is checkered: DST was used in both 20th century world wars, but it wasn’t standard policy during most of our history. President George Bush was a recent proponent and signed into law an energy policy bill just seven years ago that extended Daylight Saving Time by four weeks. A couple of states are bypassing the current DST policy: Hawaii and Arizona have exercised their right to opt out by passing a state law.
DAYLIGHT SAVINGS & BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
The year was 1784 when Ben Franklin suggested Daylight Savings Time, after observing that summer morning daylight hours were “wasted” by people sleeping in; in the evening, candles were burned to illuminate nighttime activities. The problem came when seasons turned to autumn and winter, and the schedule “readjusted:” It was against human nature to change waking times (and still is).
DST TODAY: COSTS AND ENVIRONMENTAL DETRIMENT
Dark mornings necessitate more heat, and in the summer—when working folks arrive home an hour “earlier”—air conditioning is turned up because of proximity to mid-day heat. Recent studies found that one season of DST in one state demanded an extra $9 million in energy bills annually and added 188,000 tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Cost differences are even more drastic in the fall.
Did you know? As of 2017, both Arizona and Hawaii do not participate in DST; efforts continue in New England and Massachusetts to stop using the system.
For several reasons, more and more advocates are promoting a “permanent” DST, for practical, economical and environmental reasons. Iceland, Russia and Belarus are already observing permanent DST, and Argentina, Sudan, Georgia and other jurisdictions honor a similar system. In fact, less than 40 percent of the world uses the Daylight Saving Time system, with the majority of African and Asian countries choosing not to employ the system at all.
IN EUROPE AND THE U.S.: A WEEK APART—One week before Americans turn back their clocks, Europeans turned back one hour to Greenwich Mean Time, or GMT. Not all of Europe honors the system, though many of its countries do.