Posts Tagged ‘circadian rhythms

Daylight Saving Time Sucks

- March 11th, 2012

hammer-and-clock

Daylight Saving Time sucks in so many different ways. But what it sucks most is energy.

 

That’s right, kids: The energy conservation component of this whole elaborate, annoying, frustrating, sleep-depriving, twice-a-year time-shift fandango is a self-defeating crock of malarkey.

 

DST was introduced on a mandatory basis during World War I (first by Kaiser Wilhelm’s Germany and soon after by the other side) to extend evening daylight by an hour and thus reduce after-dark power consumption (saving all that coal, oil and electricity to make more people-killing machines).

 

Wars and energy crises tend to bump up the rhetoric about the supposed benefits of Daylight Saving Time. In fact, George W. Bush’s 2005 Energy Policy Act actually made the DST period a month longer for Americans (and shortly thereafter, by extension, for Canadians), all in the name of reducing power consumption.

 

But it’s complete and utter codswallop.

 

Study after study has shown conclusively that, in this age of air conditioners and other electrical lifestyle enhancers, Daylight Saving Time actually INCREASES energy usage.

 

I could cite Hendrik Wolff’s 2000 Australian study or Matthew Kotchen and Laura Grant’s 2008 Indiana study produced for the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research, but I won’t. I’ll just point you for further reading to this National Geographic article that expounds at greater length on the Wolff and Kotchen-Grant studies among others.

 

And if you’re really, really into the nitty-gritty of this stuff, here’s a link to the published working paper of the Kotchen-Grant Indiana study.

 

The only support for Daylight Saving Time I’ve seen that makes any real sense came from the two U.S. senators for Idaho who supported the Bush extension of DST because they had statistical evidence that Americans consume more French fries when DST is in effect. And since Idaho is a big potato producer, there’s a kind of twisted, self-serving rationale to increasing chip-eating time — even if it is lunatic logic.

 

Then there’s always the thing about “farmers need it.”

 

Really? How many farmers do you know?

 

There may be a little benefit for a couple of weeks a year at haying time, but farmers work almost around the clock then anyway.

 

And cows hate having their daily rhythms altered every six or seven months.

 

If it’s actually any use whatsoever to farmers, why is Saskatchewan — a locale with more farmers per capita than any other Canadian jurisdiction — the only province to abstain from the DST folly?

 

So all the supposed benefits of DST are baloney and on the other side of the ledger we have:

 

Screwed-up body clocks and circadian rhythms, grumpy cows, malfunctioning electronics, missed phone calls, and a general sense of frustration and existential angst infecting the needlessly put-upon people trying to remember how their watches and microwave ovens work.

 

Plus it’s a major bitch trying to get all the clocks in your home to agree that it’s 2:11 and not 2:09-2:10-2:12-2:13.

 

And there’s the health issue.

 

A 2008 study in Sweden found “heart attack risks go up in the days just after the spring time change,” according to that National Geographic article I was mentioning earlier.

 

“The most likely explanation to our findings are disturbed sleep and disruption of biological rhythms,” the study’s lead author, Imre Janszky of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, told National Geographic.

 

And when Russia decided to end this foolish twice-a-year ritual last fall, officials there cited an increase in the suicide rate around clock-changing time. How very Russian.

 

The Russians, by the way, opted to keep their clocks set on Daylight Saving Time permanently, figuring — quite rightly — that it really didn’t matter if dawn came at 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. in winter but it helped everyone’s mood a lot if the sun went down at 5 p.m. instead of 4 p.m.

 

Speaking of which, most of the world doesn’t bother with this Daylight Saving Time clock-changing malarkey at all and gets along just fine.

 

It’s mainly North America and Europe that are still being hoodwinked and hornswoggled by this infernal time change. And they’re not even on the same page as to when DST begins and ends, thanks to George W. Bush.

 

(I’m still trying to figure out which of Bush’s corporate buddies benefitted from the DST extension. Did Halliburton have a juicy time-sensitive contract for resetting all the U.S. federal government’s clocks or what?)

 

I for one am not going along with this charade any longer.

 

I hereby withdraw / declare my exemption / secede from Daylight Saving Time.

 

I’m not changing any clocks. I’m not giving up an hour’s sleep. I’m not going to spend two or three weeks moping around in an irritable haze just because some puffed-up popinjay of a time lord wants to jerk my chain.

 

I can see certain conflicts and, shall we say, inconveniences arising from this decision. But at least I will now be at peace with my internal circadian rhythms if not with the external world.

 

My fervent hope is that the rest of Canada will soon join me (for your sakes as much as mine).

 

To paraphrase John Lennon:

 

“Imagine there’s no DST,

It’s easy if you try.

No hellish wake-up calls,

At evening still blue sky.

 

Imagine all the people

Not changing clocks today …

 

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one.

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will sleep in as one.”