THE BLOG

Daylight Savings

12/05/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

"Daylight" can mean many different things. It can refer to a particular quality of light. It can also mean daybreak or daytime. More abstractly it can describe how facts are brought to the surface, an insight into obscure understanding or an almost indistinguishable bit of light between two things. But many of us think about it when it's tied to Daylight Savings.

What started as a lucky break for farmers, the clock "falling back" went on to enable many to have an early breakfast and then be off to industrialized work in the newly granted hour of daylight. And conversely, when the clocks "spring ahead," it offers children the safety of daylight while on their way home from school.

One of the added benefits that hadn't been considered at its inception is that Daylight Savings is also connected to energy-efficiency. Twenty-five percent of the electricity we use goes to operating the modern conveniences and all the high tech "stuff" in our lives as well as for the lighting necessary to see what we're doing. So by the mere fact of twice yearly adjusting the time forward or back an hour, we actually minimize the tons of electricity we gobble up in those hours.

In a perfect world, when we're cutting zzz's...most of us would shut off all unused energy zappers--unplug computers, TVs, cell phone chargers, etc. But not every individual or household has the same energy needs, or, for that matter, the same comfort level with limiting their energy usage.

For instance, I usually wander off to bed at 10:00-ish and my partner stays up watching anything political including the presidential debates, the "blah-blah-blah" pundit coverage before and after, and then reruns of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. We both use energy differently, as do probably most households with more than one person, and although the electricity not used because of Daylight Saving might seem miniscule, added up, household upon household, office upon office, street light upon streetlight...collectively it can add up to energy savings and carbon emissions depletion. While hardly enough to undo all the environmental damage already done, it is, however another tool in the arsenal of personal action steps for individuals who want to make a contribution to saving our planet.

What most people aren't aware of, however, is that among his many other brilliant achievements, the same person who wrote "Fart Proudly," Founding Father Benjamin Franklin was actually the first person to recommend daylight savings back in 1784. It wasn't, however, until much-much later, during WWI in fact, that it was finally mandated. But it was indeed Franklin who first saw the practical aspects of just one hour vanishing here and yet another hour materializing there.

Who knows...falling on the weekend before election day, it might even affect the daylight left to shine some light on the Obama or McCain campaigns. To paraphrase a clever remark by Barack Obama:

"Like George Bush, John McCain wants to keep giving tax breaks to oil companies, CEOs and companies that ship our jobs overseas; tax health care benefits allowing insurance companies to discriminate against people who need health care the most; privatize Social Security; and further reduce government regulation of business...when it comes to the policies that matter for middle class families, there's not an inch of daylight between George Bush and John McCain."

And much like Bush, McCain has absolutely no plan for how to get our military out of Iraq and into Afghanistan where they are needed most. (If the Bee-Gees had to write a campaign song for McCain/Palin it would sound like "Ah, ah, ah, ah...Stay in Iraq, Stay in Iraq.") It was Franklin who also said, "A penny saved is a penny earned," and the price of staying in Iraq saves nothing - not daylight, not our brave soldiers' lives, not our moral standing in the world...nothing.

In springtime, Daylight Savings means we move our clocks ahead. In the autumn we move them back.... some call it falling back. If John McCain wins on November 4th, it'll feel more like being held back!