The clocks on our
Afterward, “Daylight Saving Time” becomes the norm for about eight months (And yes, it’s called “Daylight Saving” not “Daylight Savings.” I don’t make the rules). Then, in the fall, the opposite happens. Our clocks set themselves back an hour, and we wake up refreshed, if a little uneasy.
Mild chaos ensues at both annual clock changes. What feels like an abrupt and drastic lengthening or shortening of the day causes time itself to seem fictional. Babies and
Changing the clocks is an all-out attack on our perception of time as an immutable law of nature. It interrupts our lives in ways that are somewhat obscure precisely because they’re the norm. It’s reasonable to have questions: Why is something so weird considered normal? How does it work? Do we really have to do it? Will it ever stop?
And here are the answers.
Why do we do Daylight Saving Time? What does it mean?
The popular idea that Benjamin Franklin invented Daylight Saving Time is half-true. He wrote a
If you need a single name, British residential real estate developer
A New Zealand entomologist named George Hudson had quietly proposed a similar idea
Willett was an early riser and avid golfer, and so he had a fixation on what time the sun rose and set. With that in mind, he proposed two yearly time changing phases — one in April, and one in September. Willett’s more elaborate time change phase idea would have meant a series of four time changes in increments of 20 minutes each, stretched out over a four-week period. It was mind-bendingly complicated, but it would have lessened the abrupt impact.
All that complexity probably makes Willett’s plan sound a little deranged, but keep in mind, this was meant to fix a problem that modern, clock-changing humans are only vaguely aware of: dusk comes annoyingly early in the warmer months in standard time. It’s warm, and there’s plenty of daylight in the day for extra golfing if you’re Willett, or extra bug-catching if you’re Hudson. And yet, all that bonus daylight is front-loaded into the morning when everyone is barely even awake yet. What a waste!
Willett never saw his proposal adopted in his lifetime. The year after Willett died, however, amid the resource constraints of World War I the United Kingdom put the one-hour-at-a-time clock-changing plan, not Willett’s more gradual, monthlong plan, into effect, calling it the Summer Time Act of 1916. But Britain only adopted DST after its wartime enemy, the German Empire, adopted it first. Initially, the purpose was to conserve coal for the war effort, but slowly, in fits and starts over the rest of the 20th century, most of Europe, much of the English-speaking world, some of Latin America, and a few other places formally implemented time changes.
That brings us pretty much to the present. It’s
Where does Daylight Saving Time happen, and when?
Without getting too detailed, here are most of the places where clocks get changed:
The United States, minus most of Arizona and Hawaii
Most of Canada
Most of Mexico
Most of Europe
Parts of Australia
When the clocks change for end of Daylight Saving Time 2022
If you’re in the U.S., you’ll need to set your clocks back an hour on the morning of November 6 if they aren’t self-changing. If you want to see the time change in action, you can stay up the night of November 5, and wait until 2 a.m. November 6. At that time, turn your clock back an hour and, yep, repeat the hour that just happened.
For a similar demonstration in spring, in the wee hours of March 12 next year, wait until 2:00 a.m. and turn your clock ahead to 3:00 a.m. That missing hour simply disappears into a wormhole.
Is Daylight Saving Time good?
There simply is no objectively correct opinion on Daylight Saving Time.
The economic benefits of the wartime clock adjustment were real and immediate, according to the book Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time by David S. Perau. The adoption of DST led to “increased overtime work,” along with, “reductions in power for electric lighting [that] averaged about 20 percent.” That 20 percent power use reduction corresponded to “a cutback of about 1 percent of the total coal used for all purposes in a year.” A one percent savings is huge.
Arguments against daylight saving, which robs light from the morning to give it to the evening, often revolve around concerns over school kids, who are forced to
But the clock changes and their accompanying chaos appear to bring about real, and sometimes fatal, problems. A study on the autumn time change from DST back to standard time strongly suggests that the event
Which brings us to the rising movement aimed at locking in Daylight Saving Time, and ceasing the clock changes altogether.
Is Daylight Saving Time Permanent yet?
But here in the U.S., permanent Daylight Saving Time really might happen.
On March 15 of 2022, the U.S. Senate unexpectedly passed a bill called “The Sunshine Protection Act,” which may make it seem like Daylight Saving Time is on the verge of being permanent. Not so fast.
The bill is an interesting case study in American democracy. It was introduced on March 9, and abruptly passed six days later via something called
But the bill that passed so smoothly in the Senate still has to pass in the House of Representatives, and that’s not going to be so easy. It’s not partisan bickering that’s the problem this time around — Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Ed Markey were the Senate bill’s
In normal times, the House is where bills pass quickly, only to die in the Senate, but we’re in Wacky-land with this bill, so it may meet its fate in the House. A suitably strange end to a strange piece of legislation.
And if it doesn’t pass, we’ll probably have to keep changing our clocks, and confusing our hungry dogs, for years to come.