We’ve all heard the saying: Spring Forward and Fall Back. Move the clocks one hour ahead in spring, move the clocks one hour back in the fall. I’m sorry to say it, but Daylight Savings Time is this Sunday, March 8th. At 2:00 a.m. on Sunday your clocks will spring forward one hour to 3:00 a.m. Luckily most cell phones automatically change for you, but that doesn’t change the fact that Daylight Savings Time is quite possibly the most annoying “holiday” on the calendar. So why do we even bother with it?
Contrary to popular belief, Daylight Savings Time isn’t mandatory. Not every country country participates. According to WorldTimeZone.com, most of Asia, Africa, South America, and parts of Australia does not change their clocks throughout the year. Interestingly enough, not every state in the U.S. follows the Spring Forward, Fall Back guideline either. Both Arizona and Hawaii have opted out of the rule.
So why do these places choose to have Daylight Savings Time?
DST has only been used for roughly the past 100 years, but people have been changing their daily schedules around the sun for centuries. Without electricity, ancient civilizations needed to maximize their time in the sun in order to complete their regular work. TimeandDate.com explains that “Roman water clocks used different scales for different months of the year.”
Although it had been suggested throughout the centuries, DST became widely accepted during WWI. With so many countries using as many resources as they could spare, changing the clocks to allow more sunlight, and therefore cutting the amount of resources citizens used for artificial lighting, seemed like the perfect solution during The War to End All Wars. TimeandDate.com states that Germany was the first to utilize DST on April 30, 1916. The rest of Europe quickly followed and the United States finally joined in 1918.
DST has come and gone in the U.S. since WWI. Some states used it, some states didn’t, some major cities followed it, some didn’t. It actually affected travel and nationwide businesses because there was no real set time for the entire country.
After a few decades of watching this “do whatever you want” attitude towards time cause major problems, the United States passed the Uniform Time Act of 1966. TimeandDate.com explains that the Act declared DST was from the last Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October and gave states the ability to opt out of the time changes. According to Glenn Coin’s article “Daylight Saving Time: When do you change your clocks this spring?” for Syracuse.com, several changes have been made to DST since 1966, the last one being in 2007 moving DST to the second Sunday in March and ending on the first Sunday in November.
Coin states that DST doesn’t really help save energy like many proponents claim. Moving our clocks around an hour “only cuts electrical use by 0.5 percent — if that.” There have been studies supporting this claim, one in Australia in 2000 and the other in Indiana in 2008. For my fellow Hoosiers out there, the Indiana study “showed little change in energy use when parts of the state went to daylight savings time,” so don’t feel too bad that you don’t capitalize on that extra hour of sunlight.
Whether you like the idea of Daylight Savings Time or not, it’s here to stay. If you’re worried about being late for work or school, use your cell phone as an alarm clock if you don’t already. Like I said, cell phones automatically switch to DST so you don’t have to worry about programming it like some of your other electronics. I’m sorry that we’ll all be essentially losing an hour this summer, but let’s hope that the extra sunlight means less of the awful freezing temperatures and several feet of snow the nation has been suffering through.
becosky…. TIME. 23 Jan. 2008. Online image. Flickr. 2 Mar. 2015. https://flic.kr/p/632Ye5