Thursday, March 10, 2016

Daylight Saving Time

Spring Forward
   Who is saving time when we move the hands of our clocks forward one hour each spring?
   On March 1st we have about 11 hours and 21 minutes that the position of the sun allocates to daylight. Then by March 31st this span has increased to 12 hours and 35 minutes, which gives us an increase of 1 hour and 14 minutes during the month. The amount of daylight we have is measured by the position of the sun and by moving the clocks forward one hour near the middle of the month we gain 2 hours and 17 minutes of evening daylight by the end of the month, but we will be back to getting up in the dark for a few more weeks.
  Farmers hate the idea for good reason as dew is evaporated by the sun and farm animals don't recognize clocks, but then neither does my body clock. It takes almost six weeks to adjust to the change. A suggestion has been proposed that one can adapt internal sleep time by going to bed 15 minutes earlier for four nights prior to the time change to alleviate this problem.
   The idea of more usable summer evening time has been around for a long time. Benjamin Franklin speculated on it in 1794. The first person to do a major campaign for daylight saving time was an Englishman, William Willet, who wrote in The Waste of Daylight,

   "Everyone appreciates the long summer evenings. Everyone laments their shortage as Autumn approaches; and everyone has given utterance to regret that the clear bright light of early morning during Spring and Summer is so seldom used."

   The idea was codified into law in England in 1916 and the United States adopted it on March 31, 1918, just short of a year after we entered World War I. Today it is observed in some fashion around the world.
   Daylight Saving Time is with us to stay. It has been herald by conservationists and utility companies as a great savings in electrical energy, but studies have illustrated that these benefits are inconclusive because what is saved in the evenings is used in the morning.
   All we can do is grumble a bit, wonder if we'll ever find that lost hour, appreciate a second chance to see the sun rise, and remember to "spring forward" our clocks before we go to bed on March 12th.

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