Daylight Spending: Defending our Right to Lose Daylight
On the first Sunday of every April, I’m exhausted from waiting up until 2:00 AM to turn my clocks ahead. Saving daylight is a big job, what with changing the desk clocks, TV clocks, crock-pots, thermostats, lawn sprinklers, and automatic deer busters (it’s just water). I am grateful that my computer clock resets automatically, and I could save hours of labor if it would train my other timepieces too.
Since April 2nd I am fogged in by jet lag without ever having passed through a metal detector. Thank goodness we only spring ahead one hour and not six. But what I’d really appreciate is if we could dispense with the whole clock ritual and stop screwing with our heads. I could muster a little more enthusiasm if we were actually saving time that compounded daily and paid dividends on demand, like when I need to sleep-in on April 3.
Daylight Saving Time was conceived during World War I as a means of reducing energy consumption. But the idea was already afloat in the 1700’s when Statesman/Party Animal Benjamin Franklin pointed out that morning sunlight is wasted because no one of consequence is up that early anyway. And in 1915, London builder William Willett campaigned for turning the clocks ahead in his discourse A Waste of Daylight. When asked why he didn’t just get up one hour earlier, Willett replied, “WHAT?”
Today, 77 countries participate in the DST phenomenon, which is now considered completely natural, like the little stickers on all the produce. This is what happens when we’re not paying attention. That is, except for the alert populations of the Standard Time states of Hawaii, Arizona and Indiana who don’t seem to mind if it gets dark when the sun goes down.
Standardtime.com poses some thoughtful solutions to this issue, rather than just whining a lot like I do. In addition to eliminating DST, they propose dividing the U.S. into two time zones (East and West) instead of four. While this would leave less room for error in primetime TV watching, it has avid Daylight Savers inflamed. They see this leading us down the slippery slope of uniting the western hemisphere into one unwieldy time zone, which would lead to the merger of the National and American Baseball Leagues, which would inevitably lead to the legalization of marriage to animals.
Here on Planet Earth, humankind is dedicated to tweaking the laws of Mama Nature until She gets the hang of it. Eventually She will learn that we like our grapes seedless and our ice cream rich but fat-free, and that we remove the caffeine from our coffee and put it in the Coke where it belongs. And thanks, Mama, for the sun, but 24 hours isn’t long enough. And our clocks should spring ahead and fall back.
Since the Uniform Time Act of 1966, we’ve been metering evening sunlight for the benefit of the night people at the expense of the morning people. Maybe the night people have the same rights as us normal people, but you don’t see us turning their clocks backwards for an earlier dawn. If DST continues, then we at least deserve equal time… a few decades of Daylight Spending so we can all enjoy the morning light. WHAT?!
Copyright 2005 Patricia Draznin