Daylight saving time: The sleepy backlash
A poster promoting DST from circa 1917
Human beings can do nothing to change the rotation of the Earth and the sun, said Kirk Johnson in The New York Times. “And yet, every year, bless our hearts, we try.” So once again this week, millions of irritated, sleep-robbed Americans groped blindly in the predawn dark for the snooze button, then repeated the confounding ritual of resetting the clocks on at least a half-dozen appliances. This “leaping, clock-shifting confusion” began in 1918, when the country first instituted daylight saving time (DST) to save energy during World War I. But in a growing, nationwide backlash, “many people are saying it’s time for time to be left alone.” At least 31 states are considering legislation that would end the biannual changing of clocks. And last week, bills were introduced in the Senate and House to permanently keep the country on daylight saving time. Even President Trump has jumped on the bandwagon, tweeting, “Making Daylight Saving Time permanent is O.K. with me!”
Changing the clocks is not such a big deal, said Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times. That “extra cup of coffee” you need for a day or two every spring is a “small price to pay for the next eight months of more sunshine.” Springing forward borrows sunlight from the predawn hours, when most people are still in bed or getting ready for work, and adds it “to our most active period of the day.” This gives the “average 9-to-5 worker a bit more time to enjoy life under natural light.” As Popular Mechanics put it, DST is “a lifehack” to “force our lives to fit the natural world in a more sensible way.”
There might be a middle ground, said Mark Joseph Stern in Slate.com. As the Senate and House bills suggest, the answer “is not to end DST; it is to extend DST year-round.” Standard time is the villain, “responsible for the crime of early sunsets” each November. Permanent DST would the end the clock fiddling and “make all our lives better,” said Steve Calandrillo in MarketWatch.com. Studies suggest that an extra hour of evening sunlight would diminish fatal U.S. traffic accidents, reduce crime by 20 percent, save energy, and boost commerce and recreation. So let’s set “the clocks forward forever”—and never switch them back.