Twice a year, we Americans dutifully flip around the hours of our clocks — an hour forward in spring, and an hour back in autumn. Why exactly do we do this odd little ceremony? Daylight saving time, of course! (And that is “saving” without the “s”, mind you.) But why do we do this? Umm … to save daylight, right? So we can enjoy the outdoors longer, and don’t have to turn on the lights and waste energy? That’s what we are told, but actually, that’s not exactly the case.
Since its implementation in the early 20th century, there have actually been numerous negative effects that have come from our DST (daylight saving time) policy. In fact, a study done by some of our very own faculty here at UCSB found that this whole “springing forward” and “falling back” business is very costly. The study focused on counties in Indiana and discovered that DST actually significantly increased the resident’s energy bills, due to cranking up the heater in the winter and the air conditioner in the summer. They also found that all this increased energy usage meant more pollution emissions, and thus more of a strain on the environment. This extra energy use also translated into a waste of money that could have been otherwise saved if not for DST.
While DST was put in place in part to save the public money, most research out there can’t even come to a good conclusion on whether any cash is really saved, while others, like our very own UCSB study, declares it is doing the exact opposite. Furthermore, not only does DST do nothing for our wallets, but it actually harms our bodies as well. Following the changing of the clocks at 2 a.m. this week (the “springing forward” part), people technically now have to wake up an hour earlier if they don’t want to be late for their job in the morning. It might not seem like a lot, but for people in certain occupations, it can be very damaging. Individuals who work in dangerous environments, like miners, experience a noticeable spike in work-related accidents and death following this DST change. This is understandably due to sleep deprivation, which simply wouldn’t happen if we just left our clocks alone.
Say you don’t care about money or your health (you weirdo). Here’s another reason to not like DST: Not only is it not consistent around the world, but it’s not even consistent around our own country. This makes planning a trip or teleconferencing a coworker 1,000 times more difficult. You have to think of what time zone they are in, and you have to take into consideration whether or not their country or state recognizes DST. If that’s not bad enough, in one particular state, that sun-bleached land known as Arizona, time is not consistent within its own borders. If you drive across the Navajo nation from one side to the other, for a trip that would take four hours you would have to switch your clock back and forth a dizzying seven times.
When studies come out showing the harm that is caused by DST and, inversely, no study can dutifully show the benefits, why bother doing it? Why not have one consistent time system all year round, and just call it “time?” Wouldn’t it just make sense to look at the clock and know that, regardless of whatever month it is, you have something as simple as the time right? Free our clocks; let’s toss out the waste known as daylight saving.
Jay Grafft is just reeeally bitter about that hour of sleep he’s losing this week.