Saturday, March 8, 2008

Springing Forward ~ With Reluctance

Tonight I will participate in the semi-annual ritual of tampering with time. I will “spring forward” my clocks for Daylight Savings Time. Since childhood I have disliked DST, which has always seemed to me unnatural and humanly arrogant. It has robbed me of the awe of watching the steady progression of daylight as the year marches on – from winter’s darkness at 5:30 p.m. to summer’s corresponding dusk at 9:30 p.m. as the earth tilts in its season and more daylight spills onto the world around me.

Each year, in early spring, everything gets an awful jolt. It’s been bright when I awaken these past few weeks, but starting tomorrow it’ll be dark—with bright, sunny mornings several weeks away—like slipping down a muddy hillside and having to slowly crawl up it again.

William Willet should be burning in Hell for this. In 1905 this English builder formalized the DST system in part because he didn’t like stopping his round of golf at dusk. He tried unsuccessfully to get his plan adopted in England until his death in 1915, but then-Axis-of-Evil Germany liked his idea and adopted it in 1916 while making war on the rest of Europe. Britain quickly followed suit and the U.S. took the same misguided step of adopting DST in 1918.

Of course DST is supposed to be good for the economy. Too bad the statistics don’t agree. Sure, without a doubt it helps some retailers, sporting-goods makers and golf courses. Fortune magazine once claimed that extending DST just one week would bring in another $30 million in revenue for 7-Eleven stores and that same extension would boost golf industry revenues another $300 million a year. (Click here for more details.)

Too bad it hurts farmers, who need that extra hour of daylight in the morning, not at night. Too bad just the act of tampering with time is so expensive – in 2000 the one-day loss of changing the clock was $31 billion on U.S. stock exchanges, while in 2007 the overall cost of accommodating the altered DST annual end date was somewhere between $500 million and $1 billion in losses to the economy.

And did I mention energy savings? After all, that's the big reason DST has stayed in effect for nearly a century. Well, sorry about your luck. A recent study at the University of California, looked at electric bills for 7 million Indiana homes over three years. They chose Indiana because most of the state has refused for decades to participate in DST, but the state legislature there ended the boycott in 2006. Researchers found that having DST caused in increase in Indiana's residential electric bills of $8.6 million a year. It was the additional air-conditioning usage that really hiked the bills, along with more television, more dishwashing, more computer use – the stuff of a family lifestyle quite different than the 1918 version.

Something else: I read recently in a fascinating book called Awakening Intuition by Mona Lisa Schulz that instances of intuition and psychic messaging occur most frequently between 10 and 11 at night and  2 and 4 in the morning. So, am I supposed to tell my inner voice – the mysterious one that solves a lot of my problems while I sleep – to just “spring forward” for about eight months? Or maybe  just “fall back” until everything settles down and the clock returns to normal, whatever that is.

(For example, the photo at the top of this post is Mt. Hood at sunrise by photographer Greg Hughes. Unless I oversleep, this familiar and beautiful vision will now be replaced by darkness for several weeks thanks to DST.) 

1 comment:

Christine LeFever said...

And here I enjoy Daylight Savings Time.

Oh well.