This is my 62nd sortie into Daylight Savings Time. And of the 62 — including the first one, which may have permanently thrown off my sleep pattern at three weeks of age — I can’t remember as much bellyaching as I’m hearing at SpringTimeChange 2015.
There’s this article on The Atlantic’s Web site that says Daylight Savings Time doesn’t really save energy and has other costs in productivity and safety. And then John Oliver — who WAS my new hero after he gave us Jeff the Diseased Lung — put a segment on his “Last Week Tonight” proclaiming the stupidity of the time change.
So it falls to me, someone who is fascinated — perhaps even obsessed — with time, to explain this to all of you.
It’s pretty simple.
If you got rid of the time change, you’d have to go with one time or the other — Daylight Time or Standard Time. So let’s start with all-year Daylight Time — which, for those not old enough to remember, we tried during the energy crisis of the 1970s.
The sun rose in my hometown Saturday at 6:20 a.m., before the time change, according to a Web site called sunrisesunset.com, which I don’t suspect has any skin in this game. That’s more than an hour earlier than the sun rose on the first working day of the year, Monday, Jan. 5, when sunrise was 7:21 a.m.
Of course, had we been on Daylight Savings on Jan. 5, the sun wouldn’t have risen at 7:21. It would have risen at 8:21, and just about every worker and school child in the area would have traipsed to where they were going in the dark.
I know parents in the New York area. It’s tough enough to stand on a street corner waiting for a bus on a 10-degree January morning. It’s got to be unbearable when it’s dark.
And New York is in the eastern part of the Eastern Time Zone. Let’s say I lived in Kalamazoo, Mich., about as far west as ET goes. (Reminder: The sun rises in the east). Sunrise on Jan. 5 was 8:11 a.m. Standard Time, which means it would be 9:11 a.m. Daylight Time.
That’s ridiculous. And I suspect in Kalamazoo, in a crappy winter like the one we just had, there aren’t going to be a lot of kids going out to play until sunset at 6:22 p.m.
When we went to full-time DST in the ‘70s, there was an increase in child fatalities during the darker-than-usual winter mornings, according to the Congressional Research Service. The service says it was impossible to determine if DST was the culprit. But added to the crazy sunrises, why would you even want to risk what could happen to find out if there’s a real impact?
Of course, we could also go the other way — full-year Standard Time. The sun rose at 7:20 on Sunday morning, the first day of Daylight Time. By the time summer rolls around, it will rise about two hours earlier, 5:23 a.m. and set at 8:32 p.m.
Except if we had full-year Standard Time. Then, get ready for the sun at 4:23 a.m., and it only stays light until 7:32 p.m.
I love dawn, especially in the summer. The light is amazing, almost religious. But I don’t love it that much. And there is something to be said for a sunset lingering into the 8 p.m. hour, and light in the sky past 9 p.m.
Then there’s the good folks of Maine. Because they are far enough north, and at the eastern end of the time zone, they would have sunrises in the 3 a.m. hour, and the sun would set before 7:30 p.m.
What is the freaking point? The system that we have now, as imperfect as it is, makes a lot more sense than crazy late sunrises in the dead of winter and crazy early sunrises in summer.
Now if you find a way to adjust the calendar so that each day is 20 seconds later than the day before from December to June, and 20 seconds earlier each day from June to December, you might get my attention. This way, you adjust the clock over 180 days instead of one, minimizing whatever disruption you seem to be experiencing. (I know, you’re confused and befuddled due to this traumatic time-change thing. I’ll bounce this idea some other time.)
Otherwise, stop whining. If you need another hour of sleep, go to bed early tonight. You’ll be fine in the morning.