It’s that Daylight Savings Time Of the year again.So why DO the clocks change twice a year? Wouldn’t we all be better off without the bi-annual hassle of changing all of our clocks and time systems etc? Let alone the disruptions to meetings, trains and plane departures.
When Does Daylight Savings Time Happen?
Daylight Savings Time, often referred to as Summer Time, even though it actually happens in Spring, is when clocks are set one hour ahead of local standard time; widely adopted during summer to provide extra daylight in the evenings. Actual times when the clocks change vary. In the UK the clocks go forward 1 hour at 1am on the last Sunday in March, and back 1 hour at 2am on the last Sunday in October. However DST in the U.S. in 2013 will be Sunday March 10th.
The practice has been both praised and criticised. So lets’ cover both sides here. The opposition to turning clocks forwards and backwards is the disruption caused due to the switching itself, not to mention the many mistakes countless individuals make in missing appointments due to forgetting the change to a different time. Aside from the process already being very expensive, there is evidence to show that coordinating a man-made time change does have an impact on human nature as well.
Humans are by nature people of habit and the act of moving the clock forward and therefore forcing a different schedule on people can be very intrusive to an individuals rhythm. You only have to call to mind the effect that a slight jet lag produces that comes from the change in body rhythm due to the time change in time-zone.
Energy usage is quite often cited as the main argument in today’s ecologically-minded industrial landscape it is unclear and inconclusive how much this might impact the overall energy consumption if there were no time switch. Also research about how DST currently affects energy use is both contradictory and limited.
Global time zones already number 27 with a further 13 so called “off-set” time-zones making for a total of 40, switching the time only adds to this complexity. So you may ask do we really need Daylight Savings Time to add to the complexity of it all?
Benjamin Franklin And Daylight Saving Time
It is thought that the concept was first proposed by Benjamin Franklin in 1784, however this is a mis-attribution and comes from a time when Franklin, during his time as American Envoy to France, anonymously put forward an idea similar to a saving of daylight by suggesting the French got up earlier to take advantage of the extended hours of daylight and thereby economise on the use of candles.
Although only about half of the world uses Daylight Savings Time, most of the Western world, United kingdom, Europe, United States, etc does. With the notable exception of Australia, which is almost equally divided into North and South, with Queensland, the Northern Territory or Western Australia not observing it.
The main argument for putting the clocks forward is to make the most efficient use of the extended amount of daylight during the summer. Although there is sun earlier in the morning due to the longer days, public life does not start earlier in the summer, mainly because most human activities in the west are bound to a fixed schedule, e.g. work starts at a certain time, school schedules are fixed etc.
Now the logic is that if a human sleeps for an average of 7-8 hours, you might as well sleep while there is no daylight. Following on from Franklins idea to save candles. By moving the clock forward in the summer, the average schedule will be pushed to an earlier time and the average citizen will be able to make the most of the daylight – or sunlight if there is any!
Daylight Savings Time And Germany
Although the idea of Daylight Savings Time was first proposed in a publication by George Hudson in New Zealand it was never put into law, nor did numerous attempts to pass a Daylight Savings Time Bill make it through The House of Commons when presented by Robert Pearce in 1908. It wasn’t until the Germans started to use DST in April 1916 as an effort to conserve coal, that Britain and her allies started to do the same.
Whether you love it or you hate it, Daylight Savings Time is aimed at getting the most out of life and it’s probably here to stay. Time is one of the most valuable commodities that we possess, and so it is important to make the best use of the time we have been given.