Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Extending Daylight-Savings Time

Apparently Congress is considering passing a law extending daylight-savings time (DST) by two months because it will save energy. (Hat Tip to Jonah Goldberg) Hell, if it saves energy, then why not extend DST indefinitely. I hate adjusting my body clock and John Miller reports that cows do also. Miller points out that:

[I]t turns out that DST had nothing to do with farmers, who traditionally haven't cared much for it. They care a lot less nowadays, but when the first DST law was making its way through Congress, farmers actually lobbied against it. Dairy farmers were especially upset because their cows refused to accept humanity's tinkering with the hands of time. The obstinate cud-chewers wanted to be milked every twelve hours, and had absolutely no interest in resetting their biological clocks — even if the local creameries suddenly wanted their milk an hour earlier.

As Michael Downing points out in his new book, Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time, urban businessmen were a major force behind the adoption of DST in the United States. They thought daylight would encourage workers to go shopping on their way home. They also tried to make a case for agriculture, though they didn't bother to consult any actual farmers. One pamphlet argued that DST would benefit the men and women who worked the land because "most farm products are better when gathered with dew on. They are firmer, crisper, than if the sun has dried the dew off." At least that was the claim of the Boston Chamber of Commerce, chaired by department-store magnate A. Lincoln Filene. This was utter nonsense. A lot of crops couldn't be harvested until the morning dew had evaporated. What's more, morning dew has no effect whatsoever on firmness or crispness.

From this, my take is that we should extend DST indefinitely. It will save more energy and the consistency will please both me and the cows. The extra evening daylight will please the Environmentalists and businessmen. I guess that it would mean driving to work in the dark, but that is why we have lights on our cars. And sure, it might make those time zone maps silly, but the whole process of setting back and forward our clocks is already a silly process.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What is the effect of darkness on road safety, particularly as to children who are on their way to school?

My suspicion is that DST has a cost in increased morning accidents, and that this cost would be markedly greater if it were extended year-round.

Better to make standard time last the whole year. This has the additional advantage that noon continues to approximate solar noon.