If you missed “falling back” on Sunday, I am happy to say you will be early for everything until you reset your clock to Standard Time.
Twice a year, we all go around the house and adjust clocks, appliances and devices. Changing time with our own two hands feels powerful. No, you can’t set them to 1959 or 1992, or whatever era you would like to wake up to. You only get to mess with one hour and either add or subtract it.
Although Benjamin Franklin had a lot to say about the benefits of daylight, he did not invent daylight saving time. However, he did suggest adjusting sleep schedules to save on candles and lamp oil as early as 1784. That does make one wonder if he planted the seed, or started the conversation, for George Vernon Hudson to suggest it 100 years later in 1895, to a more receptive audience. The purpose remained saving money on fuel, conserving energy and using daylight when available.
An Englishman, William Willet, campaigned to implement the idea, but at first he wanted to move clocks forward 80 minutes between April and October. He spent his personal fortune promoting the idea to Parliament, but he died in 1915 before his idea took hold. It took World War I and England’s then enemy, Germany, to embrace the idea and get it up and running in that part of Europe.
England soon followed suit, and the United States got on board with a patchwork of local practices. By 1965, there were 23 different pairs of start and end dates in Iowa alone. Hawaii and Arizona still choose not to spring forward and fall back. As for being cost effective, with the addition of air conditioning in most homes, the actual savings is non-existent and in some states gas and electric consumption have increased.
That begs the question: Why do we still do it? If it isn’t to conserve energy and it no longer affects farmers like it used to, why not just keep one time all year long? That question is being asked by 28 countries in the European Union and if they have their way, 500 million people might be setting their clocks back for the last time. Though that may be unrealistic, as we know it would take years to establish even if they vote on it tomorrow.
I don’t see what the fuss is about, since Europe only has four time zones, as we do in the contiguous 48 states. They have voiced concern about trains and shipping, and are dismayed by the disruption twice a year. We have trains too, you know; but I guess they like theirs to run on time.
Europeans fear different schedules create chaos, confusion and even obesity. The argument about obesity came from a professor in Munich who suggested darker mornings will increase depression, diabetes, sleep problems and learning disabilities. Really? He gets to say everyone will get grumpier and fatter because of one-hour flexing throughout the year?
This makes me want to defend Alaskans who deal with 20 hours of darkness in the winter. I am sure they don’t want to be called fat and grumpy. They view themselves as tough and resilient and rightly so.
Russia spans over 11 time zones and went to permanent summer time and then switched to permanent winter time in 2014. India sets its clocks 30 minutes off from most other countries. They are 10 hours and 30 minutes ahead of us and Nepal has a 15-minute time difference from India, putting them 10 hours and 45 minutes ahead. Confused? South and North Korea are a half-hour apart as well, but that figures.
The debate will continue on daylight saving time. If 28 countries win the argument, Europe will have one less thing to worry about next year. Let’s hope they don’t move on to eliminating a day of the week.