It’s that time again, when the entirety of the world’s population, well most of the world, takes the time to change the time. While time itself is set naturally by the rotation of the earth and its position to the sun, the passengers of Earth’s orbital journey have determined that Mother Nature gets it wrong at least twice a year and needs its mere mortal occupants to fine-tune the measurement of time.
The phenom is the human intervention in the natural benchmark of time, usually defined as standard time. Occurring on the second Sunday in the month of March each year, Daylight Saving Time (DST) is a legislated mandate to move the clock forward one hour to expand the use of daylight. It’s really nothing more than a universal set of wake-up alarms in an effort to annoy billions of sleepy heads all around the nation and the world. But contrary to the belief of many drowsy and grumpy passengers, it doesn’t eliminate an hour from each day; DST merely reorders the beginning and the end of the 24-hours of each day’s available daylight. And just in case the process turns out to be a bad idea, our alarms are mandated to reset to Standard Time on the first Sunday of November each Fall.
The tinkering of time was first suggested by none other than Ben Franklin in his essay “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light,” which was published in the Journal de Paris in April 1784. America’s most brilliant and famous tinkerer, Ben advanced the knowledge of everything from printing the words of free speech to the discovery of lightning’s effect on a flying kite attached to a string and metal key. For most of his fellow countrymen, Ben’s suggestion about tinkering with time was thought to have originated from his shocking experience with flying that aforementioned kite in a thunderstorm. As a result, the idea was forgotten until Englishman and author William Willett penned a pamphlet called “The Waste of Daylight” in 1908. The English Parliament enacted legislation to advance the clock one hour in the Spring and back again in Autumn in 1916. The United States initiated the practice at the end of World War I in an attempt to conserve energy.
The premise that the semi-annual observation of time tinkering has a positive effect on energy consumption remains mostly unsettled, but research indicates that the act of playing with time does have a positive impact on the number of people suffering from stroke and cardiac arrest. It has also been confirmed by Rutgers University researchers that permanent adherence to DST would lead to a decrease in car accidents saving 360 lives each year. Economists Jennifer Doleac, Ph.D., and Nicholas Sanders, Ph.D., discovered that home robberies decreased by 7% during DST, saving an estimated $59 million. The U.S. Chambers of Commerce claims that observing DST can increase revenues as much as 3.5% for businesses located in states that observe the alteration of standard time, and the golf industry reported that one month of DST was worth $200 to $400 million because of the extended evening hours golfers can play. But for some, not all the news may be good news.
Opponents say that DST is bad for your health and negatively impacts productivity. According to the “Lost-Hour Economic Index”, moving the clocks forward each Spring has a total cost to the US economy of $434 million nationally, when factoring in health issues, decreased productivity, and workplace injuries. Some even suggest that $1.7 billion is lost because of the time it takes to move clocks, watches, and devices forward and backward. Of course, this claim ignores the fact that the process of moving time in today’s digital devices is mostly automated.
Despite the ongoing debate, Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 am on Sunday, March 14, 2021 when approximately 1.5 billion people in 70 countries across the globe observe the changing of time. In the United States, 48 states participate in Daylight Saving Time but this year Arizona, Hawaii, some Amish communities, and the American territories of Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands do not plan on attending the party. Still, the most popular act of creating more daylight has inspired legislatures to take action to make DST permanent across all 50 states, thus ending the semi-annual “yo-yoing” of time.
Senator Marco Rubio, Republican Senator from the “Sunshine State”, introduced the Sunshine Protection Act late last year. The Act would have eliminated the return to Standard Time (ST) each Fall and make DST year-round across the country, but the effort curiously ran out of, of all things, time. The Bill has been recently reintroduced by Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon who says, “The Sunshine Protection Act takes a common-sense step to provide some much-needed stability for families in Oregon and across the nation. Springing forward and falling back year after year only creates unnecessary confusion while harming Americans’ health and our economy. Making Daylight Saving permanent would give folks an hour back of sunshine during the winter months when we need it most.”
So, it appears the time to prepare for changing the time is upon us another time. Don’t risk being among those belated time-changers that fail to arrive in a timely manner for timed events on Sunday, March 14. Take the time to set a time to alter the time to be on time.
Prepare to Spring forward!