The needler in the haystack.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Falling Behind: Why Daylight Time?


Plainfielders (most of them, anyway) will set their clocks BACK ONE HOUR tonight.

Probably before going to bed, though officially the time changes at 2:00 AM.

Why at 2:00 in the morning?

Why Daylight Time (known to the Brits as Summer Time) at all?

When I was a kid, we were told by our teachers that Daylight Time was instituted to make it easier for farmers to get their crops in by lengthening daylight at the end of the day.

Living in a farming area where almost every kid worked after school at mowing, baling and collecting hay bales for storage for the winter, this made perfect sense as we worked long hours in the fields until the sun fell.

Turns out 'twasn't so.

Not the first -- nor probably the last -- time something told me by authority figures turned out to be on shaky ground.

Would it be better to have Daylight Time all-year round? That is currently being debated in Russia. The United States actually had it during World War II, at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and it was known as 'War Time'.

Over the past few years, the wonderful self-correcting nature of the Internet has been in evidence with regard to Daylight Time and I have found two excellent resources for the curious (teachers, mark these for future reference!) --

The Wikipedia article (see here) is much improved, I think, over its previous iterations.

There is also a fun interactive website where numerous aspects are broken up into little 'clouds' of information (see here) that dissolve and rearrange themselves as you click on them. It is better experienced than described -- just check it out.

At any rate, don't forget to set your clock BACK tonight.



-- Dan Damon [follow]

View today's CLIPS here. Not getting your own CLIPS email daily? Click here to subscribe.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is not as funny as you think it is! The farmers were up in arms about this government intrusions years ago. The cows did not want to give milk and hour earlier to meet the City dwellers new wake up time in the spring !!

Anonymous said...

The debate about daylight saving time really breaks down along "nightowl"- "earlybird" lines!

As a "nightowl", extending daylight saving time and having it get dark one hour later actually DOES mean more sunlight in my day!! Since I never get up in the wee hours, I notice no difference whatsoever if the sun rises one hour later or one hour earlier in the morning (according to the clock)...

But my day shortens literally by one hour when daylight saving time ends. (and it gets dark at 5 instead of 6).

People like me obviously would LOVE LOVE LOVE to have that extra hour in the evening, to be able to go for a walk, or go outside and do yardwork or whatever after 5pm!

People who get up really early and who walk or go outside in the early hours don't really see that argument.

There is one more thing I'd like to add however, regardless of whether a person is an early-bird or a nightowl, having one extra hour of daylight in the afternoon in winter is still more noticable than the extra hour in the morning...

Even when I was in school and had to be out of the house by 7am and I actually did notice the difference between the sun rising before or after 7, there was not much use to that extra daylight. Since most people start work at 8 or 9, usually the hours of 6 or 7 am are spent getting ready, getting up, showering getting dressed, eating breakfast, driving, etc.

However, when most people get off work at 5 and step out of the office building, already dressed (obviously), etc, there is a big difference if it is still light outside or of it's dark. It just makes a person feel better!

I think it has a HUGE impact on morale and general well-being to get off work and be able to step outside and it's still daylight out. Otherwise it just feels like the whole day ends in the afternoon. Very depressing.

Yes, I know the days are shorter and therefore more depressing anyway, but having that extra hour of a chance at light at the end of the day would be a nice help!!

So let's extend daylight saving to year-round!!