Daylight Saving Time: Does it still need to be a thing?

Daylight Saving Time 2016

First things first: It's Davlight Saving Time not SavingS Time. This oddly drives me up a wall. 

Either way the day is rapidly approaching when much of the country is launched into "We just watched two House Hunters, one Game of Thrones and knitted our dog a sweater he's going to hate; how is it only 7:15 PM?" mode.


 

So, how did this whole thing start; and do we need to keep doing it?
 

The Origin

The way most people tell it (as if this is a common bar conversation), Benjamin Franklin proposed and invented DST. 

That's not accurate. 

On a trip to France he published a letter suggesting that Parisians save on candles by waking up earlier to use more morning sunshine. That's about it. So basically Ben Franklin was a big fan of the old man bed time and would surely enjoy the Morning Report at 4:30 AM. But this wasn't his idea.

Ben gets credit/blamed for a lot he didn't do. Example; he never said this:


(Google it. It's an interesting story.)

Like many things throughout history, DST largely came about for selfish individual reasons: It was first proposed by a New Zealand Entomologist named George Hudson who wanted more daylight to collect insects . It was also proposed later by William Willett (He would have crushed it as a pop star with that name) who was, get this, an avid golfer.

Still, it was really war that started DST time for many nations. Germany began adding an hour of daylight during WWI in order to save on coal usage and the allies, not wanting to fall behind in any wall, followed suit. 

For the United States DST became a standard in 1966, and although this is incorrectly attributed to the 1970s energy crisis, the real catalyst for the standardization was the transportation industry which found the variance by location very difficult for scheduling. The energy crisis DID play a roll in the use of DST in the 70s, but that was in the form of a trial of year round DST to conserve energy.

 

Does it do any good?

From the standpoint of energy saving it appears as though DST has very little impact. Many studies have been done to this effect and for every one that shows a slight decrease in energy (like 0.5%) there's another that shows it actually INCREASES energy use. So, at best, it's a wash. 

The basic theory that has kept it in effect is that most people would rather switch clocks twice a year than get up earlier as a culture in order to enjoy the "extra" sunlight. More or less, it's a mental thing.

 

Maine gets it pretty bad

For us here in Maine perhaps the biggest issue is whether or not we should even be on Eastern Time to begin with. Boston, for example, has seen a movement attempting to switch the city onto Atlantic Time with a government task force investigating the idea. Their rationale holds even stronger for Maine: They are too far East to be on Eastern Time; providing sunsets barely past 4 PM in December. The overarching thought is that the are actually losing young professionals to cities with less depressing sunset times during the winter.

It's an interesting thought.

So what do you think? Do we still need DST? And should Maine switch to Atlantic Time?

Comment here or tweet at me @keithcarson. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Copyright 2016 WCSH


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