Whether local, state, or federal, our elected representatives love to throw their weight around and regulate things which do not require their assistance. New York City would like to ban big cups of soda. Skamania County, Washington, actually wrote a law to protect Bigfoot and any other "undiscovered species". The United States Congress legislated when the sun would rise and fall.
That last one is just as real as the first two. You know it as Daylight Savings Time. Originally conceived by a New Zealand entomologist in the 19th century, it wasn't utilized until the Germans implemented it during WWI. Americans did the same a short time later, then ended it, and brought it back for WWII. If the war is over, why are we still trying to control time?
The fortunate people of Arizona and Hawai'i don't bother participating in this ridiculous ritual. In fact, most countries on this planet don't participate in this ridiculous ritual - as illustrated in this fun video. They must realize that the sunrise and sunset will occur at the same interval regardless of what time Mickey's hands show on a watch. Clocks are irrelevant because you will get the same hours of daylight. Yet we continue to allow our elected representatives to make us beholden to an archaic practice of saving electricity.
In modern times, the most prevalent argument for Daylight Savings Time is conservation of energy. The Spring and Summer months in the Northern Hemisphere are the hottest of the year. Similarly, they are the brightest of the year. So the idea goes that if we spend more time in our homes during the daylight, we will use less electricity to turn on "light bulbs and run small appliances". The United States Department of Energy -in an effort to support this ridiculous ritual- conducted a study in 2008 which documented the benefits of DST. In addition to saving a whopping 0.5% of electricity usage, they also claimed it reduces crime because most crime is committed in the dark. They also claimed it reduces traffic accidents because people were driving in daylight. Perhaps they intended to claim it helped Moses part the Red Sea and can turn straw into gold, but didn't have conclusive evidence.
Let's go back to that part about "hottest months of the year". When we're home we use more electricity to power air conditioners. These demand more electricity than light bulbs. This is especially true in every southern state from Florida to California which can face horrendously hot summers. The State of California led the way in new energy efficiency standards for incandescent bulbs which are still far less efficient than CFL or LED lights. All of these changes make it far less likely that we are actually saving energy by turning ol' grandfather clock's face back an hour. Or moving it forward. Whatever.
It turns out the DOE might have gotten it wrong. The State of Indiana was divided on DST until 2006. About half of Indiana observed DST while the other half did not. When the State legislature made it mandatory for the entire state, a study was conducted to verify the savings or lack thereof.
Switching to Daylight Savings Time actually increased the demand for electricity and mainly for the reason stated above: more heating and cooling. The DOE used simulated and sampled data. Indiana used actual citizens and live data.
Back in 2011, I wrote a blog post encouraging the end of Daylight Savings Time for a very important reason that had nothing to do with Indiana. It wasn't about electricity, fiscal policy, or the environmental benefits of more hours for farmers. It was all about families.
Daylight Savings Time is a considerable inconvenience for parents. Losing an hour of sleep on a Sunday morning - even once a year - is tough. Parents have to shift their schedules twice a year. What sort of sane person can explain changing clocks to a toddler? It makes no sense to most grown ups but the responsibility lies with parents to explain to children why they woke up in the dark yesterday and in the sunlight today. This is the stuff of science fiction novels. Some data has suggested that it can take up to a month for the body's internal clock to recover.
Most people in government are parents. Surely they must understand the inconvenience of this ridiculous ritual to young kids. The time has come for all Americans to tell their elected representatives in their state and federal governments to end this outdated habit and stop regulating something that doesn't need regulation.
To move things along, you can add your name to a WhiteHouse.gov petition seeking the end of Daylight Savings Time: