Thursday, 7 March 2013

Checking Daylight Savings

Spring Forward

Daylight Savings is a drag.

You get settled into a nice routine of when you go to bed and when you wake up and then this strange relic from a different time creeps up and throws the whole system out of whack.

Why do we observe it?  Who's idea was it in the first place?

Well, I looked into it, and here's what I found.

The Idea

It all began back in New Zealand in 1895 when a guy named George Hudson decided that he wanted more hours after work to go outside and enjoy the sunshine.  You see, he was an avid bug collector (something people did before video games, I guess) and found that his afternoons ran out too quickly to enjoy his hobby year round.

So, he wrote a paper and submitted it to some philosophy society.  Nothing was done at that time, but the seed of an idea was planted.

George Hudson - what a dapper fellow.

Put into motion

Daylight Savings began in World War 1 as a way to conserve the use of coal.

Germany and it's allies started it, and soon the other side was doing the same thing.  Back then a lot of energy was used for lighting, so if you changed the clocks around a little bit, the savings were significant.

Most countries abandoned it after the first World War, others waited until after WW2, but here in North America it's still going strong. We still change our clocks twice a year because of it.

Oh sure, blame the Germans.

Modern Day Problems

Daylight Savings was probably a pretty good idea when people tended to work the same shifts, and when we used inefficient forms of energy, but the world looks a lot different now.

People work 24 hours a day, get up and go to bed at different times, and lighting uses a lot less energy than it once did.

In fact, some people are saying that Daylight Savings costs more than it saves.

David Biello wrote about it in Scientific American in 2011.  He says that it makes people tired which has a wide variety of effects, including an increased number of accidents and serious impacts on health including an increased risk of heart attacks.

Even cows don't like it, with dairy farmers saying that cows give less milk after the time change. 

You got me up early for this?!

Why do we keep it? 

That really is the question, isn't it?

Many countries have already stopped observing it.  Russia put a halt to daylight savings back in 2011.

 The tricky part for Canada is our neighbor to the south.  Isn't that always the way?  We can't really stop daylight savings here unless the US agrees to go along with it, too.

Can you imagine having to adjust your clock every time you travel across the border?

You'd have to double check your schedules for anything you wanted to watch on an American network, too.  3pm Pacific Time? Is that Canadian or American?  Ugh, just what we need, another exchange rate. 

Mostly the whole thing makes me grumpy because I lose an hour of sleep this weekend.

If we decided to observe only the Fall Back part of daylight savings twice every year, I'd be okay with that, though.  I always wake up feeling so well rested on that Sunday. 

But it doesn't look like we're getting rid of Daylight Savings anytime soon.

So don't forget to set your clocks one hour ahead before you go to bed on Saturday! 

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