As I write this blog post, my computer’s clock reads 5:30 AM, Pacific Standard Time. Greetings from the past. This morning, the geographical time difference between Boston and Los Angeles required that I wake up three hours earlier to register for classes. What’s more, overnight, daylight savings time came to an end, meaning that we lost, no gained an hour and that technically, I woke up not three hours earlier but four, no two, no—
Honestly, I have no idea how daylight savings works. What with the advent of the Digital Age—the Internet, Y2K, Angry Birds—preparing for DST requires nothing more than going to sleep and letting your digital devices automatically adjust overnight. Having to do math at 5:30 in the morning, albeit simple geometry (or was it algebra?), left me not only disoriented but also curious as to why it is that we observe daylight savings, that we “spring forward, and fall back.” How can time, something we perceive as being constant, be so circumstantial and inconsistent?For example, in the United States, Hawaii doesn’t observe daylight savings, Arizona hasn’t since 1967, Indiana adopted DST in 2005 but remains divided between two time zones, and eight years ago, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 extended DST by four weeks, or five, depending on the year. Internationally, the discrepancies over daylight savings become all the more complicated, as the practice is more common in Europe and North America than elsewhere.
Justifications for adopting DST include increasing daylight for outdoor activity during warmer months. On the other hand, whether setting your clock forward or backward, the abrupt change in sunlight can disrupt your internal clock, negatively impact your circadian rhythm, and instigate conditions such as Seasonal Affective Disorder.
In addition, proponents of DST assert that increasing natural light will decrease the consumption of electricity. Whether or not daylight savings conserves energy, however, remains inconclusive. Moreover, a subsequent increase in the consumption of air conditioning and heating has been observed as a result of the increase in daylight.
For some reason, and it was just until yesterday that I held this belief, I thought that daylight savings was the result of some outdated, agrarian practice. The belief that the origins of DST are agricultural, however, is incorrect, as the change in time doesn’t help but rather hurts farmers, whose work depends on solar time, not standard time.
If time is in fact the enemy, what are the details of our surrender? How has the most linear of concepts, time itself, resulted in such a convoluted cluster-fudge? If resetting our clocks twice a year ain’t no thang, why can’t the governments of the world start from scratch and build a more comprehensive system? But alas, it appears as if the debate over daylight savings, over whether or not to spring forward and fall back, is not so clear as night and day. I can say with certainty, however, that after registration this morning, I see nothing wrong with the seven-day week, five days of which I won’t have class.