Today is the day that those of us in the United States put our clocks forward by one hour, for reasons that most people would probably struggle to identify. Farmers? Money? Schoolchildren? Surely some rational reason backed up by science?
Daylight Savings Time started in Germany in 1916, just a few years after Adolf Hitler moved there. Coincidence? Yes: Hitler had nothing to do with DST. But as you adjust to waking up an hour earlier over the next month, it’ll feel good to blame someone specific and easily hateable.
The original rationale was energy savings and happiness. With longer days, you can wake up earlier with the sun and then have more daylight after you finish work during which you can go outside and enjoy your life. Waking up later and coming home from work as the sun is going down means that more people would stay inside burning coal in the evenings before bed.
These days, the energy savings are less clear, maybe because no one goes outside anymore and instead spends even sunny days sitting inside watching Netflix and playing video games. Or maybe that’s just my view since I live in San Francisco and it’s been raining for the past month. Thanks, El Nino.
Speaking of California, a lawmaker here has just proposed that we join Hawaii, most of Arizona, and some Amish communities by forgoing Daylight Savings Time. This has some economists and a lot of farmers very excited. I know, a lot of people think farmers are in favor of Daylight Savings Time, but it actually makes zero sense for anyone whose job solely rests on the internal clocks of plants and animals who have no respect for human time tinkering.
By ending DST, we would actually be saving on all the lost productivity of people groggily adjusting to the new time. We’d probably see fewer adverse health effects that come from time changes, like heart attacks and maybe even suicide. And several industries would save millions of dollars, like the airlines who waste a huge amount of money dealing with all the confusion over what time it is wherever people are going.
DST may still have some benefits though, like encouraging more people to exercise and be physically active when they have more sunshine. We also might get more Vitamin D. And personally speaking, I am happiest on long, bright summer evenings.
Retailers love DST, too, because having more daylight after work means that we’re more likely to go out, gas up our cars, and buy things.
That’s why I have an even better solution than having individual states like California and Utah propose to end DST–make DST permanent, year-round. Yes, you’ll have to get up in the dark to go to work in the winter, but you probably already do that, anyway. We’ll still get our beautiful summer evenings, and we won’t have to deal with the ill effects and confusion of changing times.
It makes perfect sense, so I look forward to this solution being instituted by the United States soon. Probably around the same time we switch to metric. Any minute now.