It’s Sunday morning, and there’s only one reason I can get this column written (or at least started) before church time: Daylight saving time began at 2 a.m., giving me an extra hour.
I guess that means I must be a big supporter of DST, right? No. Dead wrong.
Indeed, I think the time has come — or is actually long past — to ditch it. Or maybe, as some people are advocating, just to switch over to daylight time for good. In either case, there is no reason on Earth to continue this crazy, semiannual, back-and-forth clock-resetting and routine-disrupting custom — which, experts keep telling us, accomplishes nothing.
“Spring forward, fall back. Spring forward, fall back,” I wrote on this subject in this space way back in March 2008. “Why do we keep subjecting ourselves to a kind of in-place jet lag when, given today’s energy realities, it doesn’t save us a penny?”
There wasn’t a lot of support for that notion back then, but it has grown considerably in the years since. According to a recent report, at least 350 bills and resolutions have been introduced in every state, seeking an end to the time-switch routine. In just the past four years, 19 states have passed legislation that would provide year-round DST if Congress would just approve such a change.
So far, there does not appear to have been any meaningful response up in Washington.
Whenever this subject comes up, I always find myself recalling a call we received at The Shelby Daily Star back in the early 1980s, when I was the editor there. “Can’t you get something done about this stupid daylight time?” an irate woman complained. “The extra hour of sun is burning up my tomatoes!”
She wasn’t joking. In its own amusing way, that provides us with a needed reminder: These time changes don’t really accomplish anything at all in terms of increasing or diminishing the amount of sun we get each day. They just change the time on our clocks and iPhones.
There may have been a bit more of a rational reason to do so in a prior era. It may have accomplished a legitimate purpose back during World Wars I and II, when it was dubbed “war time.” And back when such a larger percentage of our population lived and worked on farms, perhaps going to bed when it got dark and getting up with the roosters conserved significant amounts of electricity or lamp oil or whatever.
But even if that was true then, it no longer seems to apply. If anything, the truth is just the opposite. A decade or so ago, a study by the U.S. Department of Energy concluded that sticking with one time for the entire year could actually save about 0.5 percent of electricity consumption nationwide.
And besides economic concerns, there are also medical ones. Because the twice-yearly time changes draw a lot of complaints about sleep disruption and scheduling stress and biorhythm disruption, the American Academy of Medicine has called for an end to DST on the basis of “growing research that shows its deleterious effects on health and safety.”
Yes, I suppose it was nice this past Sunday morning, when I started this column, to see the sun coming up an hour earlier than it had on the day before. But at the other end of the day, didn’t it also sink an hour earlier? I’m sorry, but what’s the point?
Steve Bouser is the retired editor and Opinion editor of The Pilot. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.