Time to Change Clocks Back Again

It’s obvious it gets darker earlier and earlier each night. The sun will set at 5:55 p.m. on Saturday, 11/6 – A day later, after we turn the clocks back again, the sunset will be 4:54 p.m. and continues getting dark earlier and earlier through December as winter approaches.

This is why I can’t wait ’til the Winter Solstice on December 21st when it starts getting lighter and lighter just a little bit every day.

The hour change is a familiar one: We “fall back” from daylight saving time to Pacific standard time, just as a “spring forward” in March.

But it’s also a familiar change many Oregonians thought they’d put behind them for good with the passage of a bill in 2019 to “lock the clock” on daylight saving time all year round.

Here’s the scoop on things:

Benjamin Franklin’s “An Economical Project,” written in 1784, is the earliest known proposal to “save” daylight. It was whimsical in tone, advocating laws to compel citizens to rise at the crack of dawn to save the expense of candlelight: Every morning, as soon as the Sun rises, let all the bells in every church be set ringing: and if that is not sufficient, let cannon be fired in every street to wake the sluggards effectually… Oblige a man to rise at four in the morning, and it is probable that he will go willingly to bed at eight in the evening.”

The first true proponent of Daylight Saving Time was an Englishman named William Willet. A London builder, he conceived the idea while riding his horse early one morning in 1907. He noticed that the shutters of houses were tightly closed even though the Sun had risen.

In “The Waste of Daylight,” the manifesto of his personal light-saving campaign, Willet wrote, “Everyone appreciates the long, light evenings. Everyone laments their shrinkage as the days grow shorter; and nearly everyone has given utterance to a regret that the nearly clear, bright light of an early morning during Spring and Summer months is so seldom seen or used… . That so many as 210 hours of daylight are, to all intents and purposes, wasted every year is a defect in our civilization. Let England recognise and remedy it.”

Willet spent a small fortune lobbying businessmen, members of Parliament, and the U.S. Congress to put clocks ahead 20 minutes on each of the four Sundays in April, and reverse the process on consecutive Sundays in September. But his proposal was met mostly with ridicule. One community opposed it on moral grounds, calling the practice the sin of “lying” about true time.

Attitudes changed after World War I broke out. The government and citizenry recognized the need to conserve coal used for heating homes. The Germans were the first to officially adopt the light-extending system in 1915, as a fuel-saving measure during World War I. This led to the introduction in 1916 of British Summer Time: From May 21 to October 1, clocks in Britain were put an hour ahead.

The United States followed in 1918, when Congress passed the Standard Time Act, which established the time zones. However, this was amidst great public opposition. A U.S. government Congressional Committee was formed to investigate the benefits of Daylight Saving Time. Many Americans viewed the practice as an absurd attempt to make late sleepers get up early. Others thought that it was unnatural to follow “clock time” instead of “Sun time.”

The Daylight Saving Time experiment lasted only until 1920, when the law was repealed due to opposition from dairy farmers (cows don’t pay attention to clocks). No fewer than 28 bills to repeal Daylight Saving Time had been introduced to Congress, and the law was removed from the books. American had tolerated Daylight Saving Time for about seven months.

The subject did not come up again until after the attack on Pearl Harbor, on December 7, 1941, and the United States was once again at war.

During World War II, Daylight Saving Time was imposed once again (this time year-round) to save fuel. Clocks were set one hour ahead to save energy.

After the war (which concluded with Japan’s final surrender on September 2, 1945), Daylight Saving Time started being used on and off in different states, beginning and ending on days of their choosing.

In 1986, the U.S. Congress approved a bill to increase the period of Daylight Saving Time, moving the start to the first Sunday in April. The goal was to conserve oil used for generating electricity—an estimated 300,000 barrels annually. (In 2005, the entire state of Indiana became the 48th state to observe Daylight Saving Time.)

The current daylight saving period was established with the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which went into effect in 2007.

Today, most Americans spring forward (turn clocks ahead and lose an hour) on the second Sunday in March (at 2:00 A.M.) and fall back (turn clocks back and gain an hour) on the first Sunday in November (at 2:00 A.M.).

Jump forward a few years —— State lawmakers passed a bill in June 2019 to keep Oregon on daylight saving time all year. The governor signed it into law a week later. The bill moved toward making daylight saving time permanent after the House voted 37-20 to ditch the twice-yearly time change if other West Coast states follow suit and Congress signs off.

The measure would establish year-round daylight saving time across the state — with the exception of Malheur County in eastern Oregon, which is on Mountain Time and will continue changing the clocks.

The bill would only take effect if other West Coast states follow suit and Congress signs off. While states can opt into standard time permanently — which Hawaii and Arizona have done — the reverse is prohibited and requires congressional action.

Oregon lawmakers endorsed the move, saying they’ve heard passionate support from their constituents.

More than 30 states are considering legislation related to the practice of changing clocks twice a year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Florida became the first state to vote for the switch and is still waiting on Congressional approval.

Daylight saving time is observed from the second Sunday in March until the first Sunday in November. Permanent daylight saving would provide an extra hour of light in the winter months, which supporters say could save energy usage and lead to increased economic activity.

A 2008 study found that time spent changing clocks costs the U.S. $1.7 billion in potential revenue. Other studies report that changing the clock affects our sleep cycle, presenting health and productivity risks. Tired workers still adjusting to the time change are more likely to slack off or to face workplace injuries, and a 2014 study found a 6.3% increase in fatal automobile accidents over the six days following the time switch.

Opponents expressed concerns that the sun would rise after 8:30 a.m. in the winter months and children would be forced to go to school in the dark. They also said it could impact agricultural operations that often depend on daylight.

Even though Senate Bill 320 – which would keep most of Oregon on daylight saving time year-round – took effect January 1, 2020, that key provision – locking the clock on daily saving time – has yet to be triggered.

The bill would keep Oregon on daylight saving time and skip “falling back” in a future November. The portion of Oregon on Mountain Time in the far eastern portions of the state – cities like Ontario and Jordan Valley – would be exempt.

But Oregon lawmakers said the change would only take effect the first November after both Washington and California adopt year-round daylight saving time.

Washington lawmakers passed legislation to do so, and California voters cast ballots directing lawmakers there to do the same. But the law hasn’t been a priority for California lawmakers since it stalled last year in the state senate.

All three states also face one final hurdle: Congress needs to sign off on the deal.

So stay tuned: Oregon lawmakers built a 2029 deadline into the law, so there’s still time to change to year-round daylight saving time.

Five Ways DST Year-Round Would Be an Improvement

DST saves lives and energy and prevents crime. Not surprisingly, then, politicians in Washington, California, and Florida are now proposing to move to DST year-round.

Congress should seize on this momentum to move the entire country to year-round DST. In other words, turn all clocks forward permanently. If it did so, here are five ways that Americans’ lives would immediately improve.

1. Lives would be saved

Simply put, darkness kills – and darkness in the evening is far deadlier than darkness in the morning.

The evening rush hour is twice as fatal as the morning for various reasons: Far more people are on the road, more alcohol is in drivers’ bloodstreams, people are hurrying to get home and more children are enjoying outdoor, unsupervised play. Fatal vehicle-on-pedestrian crashes increase threefold when the sun goes down.

DST brings an extra hour of sunlight into the evening to mitigate those risks. Standard time has precisely the opposite impact, by moving sunlight into the morning.

A meta-study by Rutgers researchers demonstrated that 343 lives per year could be saved by moving to year-round DST. The opposite effect would occur if the U.S. imposed year-round standard time.

2. Crime would decrease

Darkness is also a friend of crime. Moving sunlight into the evening hours has a far greater impact on the prevention of crime than it does in the morning. This is especially true for crimes by juveniles, which peak in the after-school and early evening hours.

Criminals strongly prefer to do their work in the darkness of evening and night. Crime rates are lower by 30 percent in the morning to afternoon hours, even when those morning hours occur before sunrise, when it’s still dark.

A 2013 British study found that improved lighting in the evening hours could reduce the crime rate by up to 20 percent.

3. Energy would be saved

Many people don’t know that the original justification for the creation of DST was to save energy, initially during World War I and II and then later during the 1973 OPEC oil crisis. When the sun is out later in the evening, peak energy loads are reduced.

Virtually everyone in our society is awake and using energy in the early evening hours when the sun sets. But a considerable portion of the population is still asleep at sunrise, resulting in significantly less demand for energy then.

Having more sun in the evening requires not just less electricity to provide lighting, but reduces the amount of oil and gas required to heat homes and businesses when people need that energy most. Under standard time, the sun rises earlier, reducing morning energy consumption, but only half of Americans are awake to be able to use the sun.

This rationale motivated some in California to recommend permanent DST a decade ago, when the state experienced recurrent electricity shortages and rolling brown-outs. Officials at the California Energy Commission estimated that 3.4 percent of California’s winter energy usage could be saved by moving to year-round DST.

Similarly, DST resulted in 150,000 barrels of oil saved by the U.S. in 1973, which helped combat the effect of OPEC’s oil embargo.

4. Avoiding clock switches improves sleep

Critics of DST are correct about one thing: The biannual clock switch is bad for health and welfare.

It wreaks havoc with people’s sleep cycles. Heart attacks increase 24 percent in the week after the U.S. “springs forward” in March. There’s even an uptick during the week in November when the clocks “fall back.”

If that’s not bad enough, a study from 2000 shows that the major financial market indexes NYSE, AMEX and NASDAQ average negative returns on the Monday trading day following both clock switches, presumably because of disrupted sleep cycles.

Critics of biannual clock switching sometimes use these points to argue in favor of permanent standard time. However, I think it’s important to note that these same sleep benefits are available under year-round DST, too. Plus, standard time doesn’t offer the energy or lifesaving or crime prevention effects of DST.

5. Recreation and commerce flourish in the sun

Finally, recreation and commerce flourish in daylight and are hampered by evening darkness.

Americans are less willing to go out and shop in the dark, and it’s not very easy to catch a baseball in darkness either. These activities are far more prevalent in the early evening than they are in the early morning hours, so sunlight is not nearly as helpful then.

Not surprisingly, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as well as most outdoor recreational interests favors extended DST.

Research shows that sunlight is far more important to Americans’ health, efficiency and safety in the early evening than it is in the early morning. That’s not to say there aren’t downsides to DST – notably, an extra hour of morning darkness. But I believe the advantages of extended DST far outweigh those of standard time. It is past time that the U.S. sets the clocks forward forever, and never has to switch them again.

Five Ways DST Year-Round Would Be an Improvement is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article here.

What are your thoughts on this? Oh, and don’t forget when you set the clocks back 1 hour before going to bed Saturday night… add fresh batteries to your smoke alarms!

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