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History of Daylight Savings Time and is it worth it?

on Tuesday, 05 March 2019. Posted in Columns, Opinions

By: William M. Mingus

It’s that time of year again. Finally, we have some extra afternoon sunlight to actually get some things done like gardening, yard work, taking walks, and playing with our kids and dogs. Even though we lose an hour of sleep, it is worth the extra sunlight.

If you think Daylight Saving Time (DST) is a good idea, thank New Zealand scientist George Vernon Hudson and British builder William Willett. In 1895, Hudson presented a paper to the Wellington Philosophical Society, proposing a 2-hour shift forward in October and a 2-hour shift back in March. There was interest in the idea, but it was never followed through. In 1905, independently from Hudson, British builder William Willett suggested setting the clocks ahead 20 minutes on each of the four Sundays in April and switching them back by the same amount on each of the four Sundays in September, a total of eight time switches per year.

Many sources also credit Benjamin Franklin with being the first to suggest seasonal time change. However, the idea voiced by the American inventor and politician in 1784 can hardly be described as fundamental for the development of modern DST. After all, it did not even involve turning the clocks. In a letter to the editor of the Journal of Paris, which was entitled “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light”, Franklin simply suggested that Parisians could economize candle usage by getting people out of bed earlier in the morning. Franklin meant it as a joke.

DST is now used in over 70 countries worldwide and affects over one billion people every year. The beginning and end dates vary from one country to another. So how is it regulated in the US?

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 gives every state or territory the right to opt out of using DST. In the contiguous US, only Arizona currently exercises that right. Clocks in most of the state, including its capital, Phoenix, remain on Mountain Standard Time (MST) all year. The only exception is the Navajo Nation in northern Arizona, which follows DST to stay in sync with the parts of its territory extending into Utah and New Mexico—both states observe DST. Other parts of the USA that do not follow DST are Hawaii and all of the country’s external territories, such as Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands. In 2006, the state of Indiana, after having abstained from changing its clocks since 1970, decided to join the national DST regime.

In 2015, the Nevada Senate passed Nevada Assembly Joint Resolution 4, which urged Congress to enact legislation allowing individual states to establish daylight saving time as the standard time in their respective states throughout the calendar year. This would mean that Nevada is on the same time as Arizona all year, but would be an hour ahead of California in the winter. The United States Congress has not yet enacted any enabling legislation in this regard. On March 6, 2018, the Florida Senate approved the “Sunshine Protection Act” which would put Florida on permanent DST year round, and Governor Rick Scott signed it March 23. Congress would need to amend the existing 1966 federal law to allow the change.

So, is DST worth keeping? Here are some of the pros and cons.

• Pros: Longer evenings, less artificial light, and helps increase safety.

• Cons: Lack of energy saving, it can make people sick due to messing with our bodies clock , and decreases productivity in the workplace.

We’d love to hear from you! What do you think about DST? Go to The News Journal Facebook page and take our poll.

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