"The Joys of Daylight Savings Time"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Friday, March 14, 2014

Well it’s done. Our clocks are all set an hour ahead.

We missed an hour of sleep last week and lots of us haven’t caught up yet. Daylight Saving Time also is referred to as “summertime.” (This year, how’s that for a chuckle?)

I hope lawmakers Ed Markey and Michigan’s Fred Upton (current authors of our DST) both appreciate the changes they enacted to the 1996 Uniform Time Act. Their amendment, sometimes referred to as a shift from polar to solar, will not find many people very happy about springing forward four weeks early.

I cannot imagine anyone in Michigan and those in many other states from Georgia on up looking out the window an hour later and saying, “I’m sure glad summertime has arrived.”

It probably perks up many homeowners who now know that energy savings will begin. I know I can’t wait to view my electric bill and see how much I saved during the four weeks of early summer.

The claims are that with DST, we will all save energy. But how will that work in all of this winter weather? It might help if the polar to solar move could get rid of the white stuff lying all over the place. How will it work during our dark months of November, December, January and February?

I often wondered whose “bright” idea Daylight Saving Time was. When I looked it up I found it dated back to 1784. It seems Ben Franklin, at that time our American delegate to Paris, was discussing the waste of the early morning sunlight. He suggested adding it to the day’s end with a time shift.

We can’t really blame DST on Ben alone. He presented his idea to many leaders around the world and after many years it was finally considered. William Willet of Germany was the first to introduce it to his country closely followed by many others, including the United Kingdom during World War I. Some countries enacted DST completely while others only partially changed their times.

In the U.S., Hawaii and Arizona do not change to DST (except for Arizona’s Navajo nation). Overseas territories: American Samoa, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands and the Northern Marianas Islands remain on standard time. Michigan once suspended DST from 1969 to 1972 and by a narrow vote returned to it in 1973. A bill is being considered in Tennessee at this time to remain on DST year round. This type of action is being discussed in many states.

Daylight Savings Time was promoted as a major energy saver when it was first introduced. It was suggested the extended daylight would help those who wished to spend more time outdoors, watching sunsets, strolling along avenues, visiting gift shops and ice cream stands. It was thought a financial gain would be realized by many such businesses. It was common to see entire families sitting on their front porches enjoying the close of day.

In today’s era, the energy savings from DST are being spent on home air conditioners and multiple electronics in use in every household. Perhaps energy saving is a thing of the past. Adding additional weeks to DST was promoted as a means of reducing traffic accidents. This winter was a poor time to initiate it because the glare on snow covered, icy roads in the additional daylight, making driving even more difficult.

I’ve read that the greatest opposition to DST came from farmers. I’ve never spent time on a farm so I wondered why. I learned that the time shift causes farmers to lose an hour of time usually expected to take the dew off the crops before harvesting. Another tale passed along described how the cows were slow to give milk and often missed the shipping time. I think those cows are just like the rest of us, they don’t like to get up earlier, especially in the dark.

Those that passed the bill to extend DST forgot what winter really is all about in their eagerness to bring summertime to everyone. Let’s just hope warmer weather will not be too far away and DST may yet be a benefit.

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