After long, dark winters, the time to “spring forward” marks the symbolic beginning of summer.
We look forward to long summer evenings enjoying outdoor recreation until well after 9 p.m.
As we enter April with golf courses and softball fields covered by snow and with the outdoor temperature more appropriate for downhill skiing than water skiing, the March 11 switch to “summertime,” as the British call it, seems to be a joke.
Some people would like to make daylight-saving time permanent. The clocks would move ahead and stay there.
Permanent daylight-saving time is a bad idea.
The Florida legislature recently overwhelmingly passed the cleverly named Sunshine Protection Act. As Minnesota snowbirds will tell you, Florida is a perfect place to enjoy another hour of evening daylight year-round.
For years, New Englanders argued for extending daylight-saving time to their region for the entire year. Because they are at the far east edge of the sprawling Eastern Time Zone, winter sunsets come early.
Congress established daylight-saving time as well as standard time in 1918. Daylight-saving time was repealed a year later, after strident objections from farmers, who preferred having more light in the morning, not in the evening. Daylight-saving time returned during World War II and then became an issue for state and local governments until the Uniform Time Act of 1966.
In response to the 1973 energy crisis, daylight time began earlier in 1974 and 1975. In 1976, the United States reverted to the schedule set in the Uniform Time Act because of late winter sunrise times.
Proponents of permanent daylight-saving time argue it saves energy because lights get turned on later in the day. Opponents say the longer evenings coax people out to play and shop…in their cars…which drives gasoline consumption.
Researchers assert the twice-yearly clock changes affect our productivity. The week after a time change has been found to lead to more car and work accidents, heart attacks and headaches, as well as decreased work productivity. It’s estimated the resulting loss in productivity costs the United States economy $434 million a year.
Calling the twice-yearly time changes daylight-saving time really sounds more like a marketing term than science. Daylight really isn’t saved. One person’s daylight saved is another person’s daylight lost.
Let’s look at the clock. In late June, we enjoy long days. The sun sets after 9 p.m. (daylight time) after more than 15 hours and 40 minutes of daylight.
But now the bad news. In late December, there’s a lot less daylight to save. There are about 8 hours and 40 minutes of daylight to spend. With standard time, December sunrises are just before 8 a.m. With year-round daylight-saving time, the sun would rise just before 9 a.m. – long after most of us have left for school or work.
Let Florida protect sunshine.
But here in Minnesota, we know it’s cold and dark in the winter. Get over it.
There’s not much daylight to save.