Should We Get Rid of Daylight Saving Time?

It’s time to fall back, people. Always the subject of grumbles and debates, daylight saving time’s end is upon us again. Are you ready?

If you’re still having a hard time wrapping your head around the merits of DST, you are not alone. The system can be confusing, taxing, and altogether annoying, but those of us who have to adhere to the schedule change usually welcome it in the fall and its “extra” hour of sleep.

But that doesn’t mean everyone wants to keep the system alive. As you’ll hear in this video from CBS, the idea was first linked to Benjamin Franklin because of a satirical essay he wrote about Parisians using sunlight versus candles. That is untrue, as that honor goes to George Hudson, a New Zealand entomologist who first proposed the concept.

However, the first ones to put daylight saving into practice were the Germans in 1916. It had nothing to do with farmers’ preferences, but rather was a measure undertaken to conserve energy. Later, other European countries also adopted DST and the U.S. followed.

In 1918, the United States not only enacted Daylight Saving Time, but also divided the country up into its various time zones. The springtime DST clock shift was meant to “move” an hour of sunlight into the evening hours, which was deemed beneficial for energy conservation during wartime.

Technically, DST begins in the spring and ends in the fall when we convert back to standard time. When it was first enacted here in the States, farmers actually rallied against it as it messed with their schedules.

For a time, there was not a standardized system for when DST should start or end, and different states, towns, and municipalities operated under their own clocks. DST was even repealed! It wasn’t until 1966 that a uniform standard was established and became what we know today.

In this country, Hawaii and most of Arizona do not observe DST. Earlier this year, Floridians voted for the state to stay under DST year-round, but the bill has stalled in Congress. The European Commission is also looking to do away with daylight saving time based on a public survey that showed 80% of respondents want it abolished.

So, where do we all go from here? Less than 40% of the world’s nations observe DST, which has to do with sunlight exposure during certain times of the year – and our manmade clocks. We have electricity and air-conditioning, two things that anti-DST folk like to point out.

Do we still benefit from clock changes? Our inner clocks have a hard time adjusting in the spring, where it’s been highlighted that there’s an increase in health problems and traffic accidents due to losing an hour of sleep.

We’re living in a different time and even experts can’t agree on the origin or benefits of switching times. People tend to stay outdoors and spend more money with an extra hour of sunlight (retailers love this), but many people are happy to live under standard time reintroduced in the autumn.

Where do you stand? Do you want to say goodbye to DST and stay in the summer or stay in the fall? Do you hate one option more than the other?



The Franklin Institute

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