Monday, November 19, 2018

Spring Ahead, Fall Behind

For a century or so, the silly expression, “Spring Ahead, Fall Behind,” has described the strange semiannual ritual of changing our clocks in spring for “Daylight Saving Time” and then changing them back again in fall to return to “Standard Time.” In more recent decades, this semi-annual silliness has been supported by the perverse view that somehow such changes represented or at least facilitated energy conservation. In fact, it has sometimes been said that extending “Daylight Saving Time” frequently serves as a convenient substitute for actually having any serious sort of energy policy! (Of course, no daylight is actually saved in "daylight saving time,"  just shifted instead from morning to evening. The obvious question - what everyone going to work or school in greater early-morning darkness does for energy conversation - is seldom asked and ever more seldom answered.)

I am at the moment in California, where on November 6 voters approved California Proposition 7, the Permanent Daylight Saving Time Measure. That “yes” vote supported allowing the State Legislature to change the dates and times of the daylight saving time period, consistent with federal law, and also to establish permanent, year-round daylight saving time in California by a two-thirds vote, if federal law is changed to allow for permanent daylight saving time.

Meanwhile, the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union recently moved to end the semi-annual clock change ritual in Europe. Potentially, therefore, the last EU-wide daylight saving time period could start on March 31, 2019. Each member state would then have the chance to decide whether to stay on daylight saving time year-round or to change the clocks once more on October 27, 2019, and then observe permanent standard time in subsequent years. (Most European countries currently synchronize their clock changes, according to the current EU rules, according to which daylight saving time starts on the last Sunday of March and ends on the last Sunday of October.)

Personally, I have never seen the sense in "daylight saving time." I would love to see everyone stay on "standard time" all year round. Next best, I suppose, would be to stay an hour ahead on "daylight saving time" all year. The worst outcome would be to continue the current silliness of switching our clocks forward and backward as a make-believe energy conversation or "daylight saving" measure!

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