You probably heard a lot of hullabaloo earlier this month about turning clocks back. Everyone’s debating whether ‘tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous daylight saving time, or to take arms against a sea of clocks…
I’ve found no evidence that The Bard had any feelings one way or the other on this topic that divides our nation (everything divides us these days – why shouldn’t what time it is?). Anyway, I usually like hullabaloo as much as the next lunatic, and this certainly is some prime hullabaloo. If Americans are well-stocked with anything, it’s crankiness, and they certainly don’t hesitate to spew it at any available target, including daylight. Wait a minute – did that sound misanthropic? Good. Seems appropriate.
Proponents of Daylight Saving Time have long claimed that it benefits business, while others dispute the claim. However, most objections I hear have little to do with business, and everything to do with changing clocks twice a year. Evidently that has become a burden that many Americans are incapable of dealing with. They’d much rather deal with a preposition ending a sentence, so I just provided one, free of charge. I’m not sure how much the objection has to do with the physical task of adjusting clocks (many clocks do that on their own these days), or adjusting to a new sleep schedule. Personally, I have never found either issue to be overwhelming.
The real issue, as I see it, is that if we eliminate the spring and fall time changes, we are left with a dilemma. Namely, which time do we choose to have year-round – Standard Time, or Daylight Saving Time? We would be faced with a task that I believe Americans would truly be incapable of dealing with – agreeing on something. We, as a nation, would actually have to make a decision. Difficult to imagine, isn’t it?
Of course, the decision to implement Daylight Saving Time was made years ago by that august body, the United States Congress. So maybe we should leave that decision to them again, and… HAHAHAHAHA! Today’s Congress make a decision? We’ll more likely see the moon split in two and each half come down and cover one of the polar ice caps. Come to think of it, that might solve the ice cap melting problem, so maybe we should lobby Congress to have NASA see what they can do about that.
The decision of which time standard to choose boils down to when we want our daylight hours to be. In the northern US, where Joe Zone headquarters is located, there are about 15 hours of daylight and nine hours of darkness in the summer. Those hours are reversed in the winter. If you live farther south – say, Disneyworld – the variation is not as extreme, being about 14 vs. 10 hours. But if you live in Disneyworld, you probably don’t care what time it is, because it’s always fun time.
Let’s say, though, you’re not too far from the Joe Zone latitudes (which might be a great name if we ever open a Joe Zone theme park). In the summer, under DST, the sun rises around 5:45 – 6:00 AM and sets about 8:45 – 9:00 PM. Using DST allows us to take advantage of more of those daylight hours in the evening, instead of early in the morning. If we stayed on standard time year round, the sun would set around 8:00 PM, which isn’t bad, but it would rise at about 5:00 AM, with civil twilight (the first lightening of the sky) coming around 4:15 – 4:30 AM.
In the winter, under standard time, the sun rises around 7:30 – 7:45 AM, and sets about 4:45 – 5:00 PM. If we stay on DST all year, the sun will rise at 8:30 – 8:45 AM. Of course, we’ll push sunset back to about 6:00 PM, but there will be some very dark mornings.
Therefore, do we decide that changing the clocks twice a year is more burdensome than having summer daylight at 4:30 AM or winter darkness at 8:30 AM?
I hope my little analysis has helped you make up your mind. I would find that quite gratifying, as I don’t think I have ever influenced a single individual on the face of the earth. My guess is that no matter what is done about this national crisis, people will still complain. It’s human nature. Heck, I love a good complaining session myself, and I partake of one whenever I can. I think the only thing I personally have concluded from all of this is that it might be pretty cool to live in Disneyworld.
Oh – and that a Joe Zone theme park is a great idea.