Time to Scrap Daylight Saving? 28 Countries May End DST.

New Proposals to End Daylight Time

By Catherine Boeckmann
November 3, 2018
Clock in Grass
M.Vich/Shutterstock

It’s a popular myth that Daylight Saving Time is for farmers—a myth that some of us were taught in schools. This practice—which only became regular in 1966 (which may also surprise you!)—was challenged by farmers and is increasingly being challenged by modern society. Last month, Europeans changed their clocks back to standard time, possibly for the last time. Some states have also questioned the practice. Read on …

Daylight Saving Time in the 1970s

When I grew up in the 1970s, I remember Daylight Saving Time (DST) being popular. The government and schools seemed to promote it as a positive and beneficial force. When the clocks moved forward an hour in March, my mother would get a grumpy me out of bed and say, “Look! All you kids have more time after school to play outside!”  (As I consider my son’s 7th grade class, I ruefully think that this was a time when more kids played outside.)

Interestingly, DST wasn’t a regular “thing” until April 12, 1966 when President Johnson signed it into law. The Uniform Time Act established a system of uniform (within each time zone) Daylight Saving Time throughout the U.S. and its possessions. States were allowed to opt out (and some did).

Before then, DST was briefly used during World War I and World War II to conserve fuel—and then there was a short stint during the oil crisis of the early 1970’s under Nixon. (Read more about the checkered history of Daylight Saving Time.)

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Photo credit: Billion Photos/Shutterstock

Daylight Saving is NOT for Farmers

The myth is strong with this one. DST has nothing to do with farming.  In fact, farmers have often been the strongest lobby against the change. Farmers didn’t like DST when it was first introduced and don’t like it to this day.

During the first World War I experiment in 1918, farmers were extremely opposed to having to turn back and forward their clocks. Not surprisingly, it disrupted their schedules and made it more difficult to get the most out of hired help.

Imagine telling a dairy cow used to being milked at 5 A.M. that their milking time needs to move back an hour before the milk truck is coming to do a pickup. For the farmer—and the plants and animals—it’s the sun and the seasons that determine the best times to do things.

After the war ended in 1918, the DST law (which lasted 7 months) proved so unpopular with our agrarian society, the federal law was repealed (in 1919). Some state and localities continued the observance.

In the early 1960s, observance of DST was quite inconsistent across U.S. states. Businesses and transportation companies pushed for standardization. The farmers, however, were opposed to it.

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Photo Credit: Zaccio/Shutterstock

Daylight Saving Extended in 2007

In 1986, DST began at  2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday of April and ended at 2:00 a.m. on the last Sunday of October.

Beginning in 2007, Congress extended DST with the assumption that energy consumption would be reduced. 

In the United States—as well as Canada—Daylight Saving Time:

  • Ends at 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday of November (November 4 in 2018)
  • Begins at 2:00 a.m. on the second Sunday of March (March 11 in 2019)

So, Who Benefits From Daylight Saving?

Some constituencies profit from changing our clocks. 

  • For example, today, we drive our cars everywhere. The lobbying groups for convenience stores know this—and pushed hard for daylight saving time to last as long as possible.
  • Extra daylight means more people shop in retail environments. Outdoor businesses such as golf courses and gardening supply stores report more profit with more daylight hours.  

Does DST really conserve energy? According to Congress, this is the main reason for the switch. When the Energy Policy Act extended the hours in 2007, Congress retained the right to revert back should the change prove unpopular or if energy savings are not significant. 

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  • Department of Energy report from 2008 found that the extended DST put in place in 2005 saved about 0.5 percent in total electricity use per day. However, the closer you live to the equator, where the amount of daylight varies little, actually increased after the clocks were switched.
  • In Indiana, where I currently live, the change to DST in 2006 actually cost us. Matthew Kotchen, a Yale economist, found a 1 percent increase in electricity use in Indiana. Due to higher electricity bills and more pollution, Indiana’s change ended up costing consumers $9 million per year.
  • Further studies in 2008 showed that Americans use more domestic electricity when they practice daylight saving.

Today, as modern society marches forward, the energy argument may become obsolete. In terms of work, we’re not really a 9 to 5 society any more. Factories have different shifts. Office workers use the internet. Farmers will use daylight hours, no matter what. At home, our electricity demand is no longer based on sunrises and sunsets. We drive instead of walking which means daylight saving actually increase gasoline. 

It’s quite possible we are now wasting energy. 

And with computers, TV screens, and air conditioning using more energy, more Americans find switching clocks increasingly unpopular.

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Our Bodies, Our Health

Energy isn’t the only thing to be considered. What about our health? Polls show that the switch between Daylight Saving Time and Standard Time each year is miserable for most humans.

Clocks are man-made. Changing the time disrupts our body clocks or circadian rhythm. For most people, the resulting tiredness is more of an inconvenience twice a year. For many folks, however, it’s a more serious issue.

  • Studies show it leads to more car accidents and heart attacks—the latter by as much as 24 percent.
  • Studies link the lack of sleep at the start of DST to workplace injuriessuicide, and miscarriages
  • In the workplace, studies have found that there is a decrease in productivity after the spring transition.
  • What about November when you get an extra hour of sleep? The reality is that most people don’t sleep extra. And the disruption in the body’s daily sleep-wake cycle can affect sleep for several days.

See 5 tips to help your body to adjust to Daylight Saving Time.

You could argue it’s better for school children (not going to school in the dark); however, I’d disagree.

  • Teenagers definitely don’t do well with DST during the spring change when they lose an hour of morning sleep.
  • And consider the parents with small children; the kid that gets up a 5 A.M. will now be getting up the equivalent of 4 A.M. Parents will certainly lose sleep and spend weeks adapting twice a year—and studies show that their happiness levels are lower.

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A Movement to Abolish DST

Congress allowed states to opt out of Daylight Saving Time—though they they did not allow states to make daylight saving permanent. Either option would mean no clock changes.

  • Most of Arizona does not change its clocks. Perhaps this makes sense given Arizona’s desert climate with hot temperatures and cool evenings.
  • Several states in New England — Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island — have created commissions or introduced proposals to have year-round DST. These areas deal with very early winter sunsets. In New Hampshire, where The Old Farmer’s Almanac is based—the Sun sets at 4:14 P.M. on December 1. See your sunrise/sunset times.
  • California has also considered abolishing the practice.
  • This fall, the Florida Legislature passed the Sunshine Protection Act to make DST all-year-round—with overwhelming public support. That means no time changes with later sunsets (and later sunrises) all-year long. However, Congress has not approved Florida’s bill. (Remember: States can opt out of DST but they can’t go 100%.) When I think of my state of Indiana, which didn’t adopt DST until a decade or so ago, being out of sync with other time zones did create some problems attracting businesses to the state. 

As history tends to repeat itself, this issue of time zone coordination across the country is a clearly a factor. 

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Our European Counterparts

This brings us to our European contemporaries. They also practice Daylight Saving Time. For most of Europe, DST:

  • Begins at 1:00 a.m. GMT on the last Sunday of March and
  • Ends at 1:00 a.m. GMT on the last Sunday of October

However, Europe recently proposed ENDING the clock-changing. This past September (2018), the European Commission proposed scrapping DST altogether for ALL of the European Union. That’s 28 member countries! If approved, the last EU-wide clock change would be on Sunday, March 31, 2019. (In reality, it will take some time for this legislation to get approved.)

Other countries have ended DST. Argentina stopped daylight saving in 2009. Russia ended its daylight saving in 2014. Turkey ended DST permanently in 2016.

Just as is the case with North Americans, the EU population overwhelming wants to abolish DST.  A poll was conducted in which 80% were in favor of eliminating it.

The head of the European Commission, which drafted the directive to end DST, said, “It would be pointless to ask for people’s opinions and not act on it if you don’t agree with them.”

I find it interesting that the Europeans—who first started DST (with North America following)—are now proposing the end of moving clocks twice a year.

What do you think about Daylight Saving Time?  Tell us in the comments below!

Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

DST

Scrap it for everybody there is no need for it!

Leave the time to 1 set time

Leave the time to 1 set time pleaseeee!! I hate the change It makes everyone tired and less productive. I work 6am and I love getting up early .. but with the time set an hour early it is my favorite so that there is lots of daylight when I get off work..

one year, one time

I am from europe and I prefer daylight saving. it gives longer afernoons in the fall when the days get shorter and cutting another hour seems like the day ends even earlier. whatever is chosen I hope they stick to ONE hour whole year round. It's stressing!

Add-on to Natural Time

The time zones are man-made lines on a map and were set up to standardize time around the earth, but standard time does not reflect natural time. Under natural time the zenith (noon) occurs a half-hour earlier (7.5 degrees) at the eastern edge of the time zone and a half-hour later at the western edge. So, you have to make some adjustments when you are telling time by the sun depending on where you are within the time zone. Natural noon occurs at each minute (1/60th of a degree) or even each second (1/60th of a minute) in its own time. Of course, standard time zones work for modern man to coordinate time around the planet, so I don't object to the inaccuracy, I'm just saying it is man-made, not natural.

Food for thought.

You make some valid points. I live in Australia and my state still has DST. We have a hot Christmas so it's good for entertaining, kids pool parties etc. Although I think your 'Studies show/link/have found' section may be a bit of a stretch as genetics, environmental and psychological factors come into play (e.g., there would be a rise in suicides at Christmas no matter whether it is DST or not), I also wonder, after reading this, whether DST is really necessary. Well done.

Natural Time

The earth revolves west to east which makes the sun appear to rise in the east and travel west 15 degrees per hour (24 hours = 360 degrees). So, each time zone covers 15 degrees of longitude and was set up so that the sun is at its zenith (highest point) at the middle of the time zone exactly at noon. Daylight savings time screws up natural time. Using natural time, one can tell the time of the day by the position of the sun in degrees from the zenith, hence sundials are very accurate and can't be reset to DST. Earth's orbit around the sun creates the seasons as the eliptical orbit causes the sun to appear to move north to south (summer or winter depending on whether you live in the northern or southern hemisphere). Natural laws have worked marvelously for billions of years. Ditch DST and allow nature's laws, not man's laws, to rule.

DST

Scrap it all around the world...

DST

Abolish DST - Never was for it! Health reasons statistics affect more people than we want to acknowledge. Students early on buses - just last week in Northern Indiana THREE (3) children killed crossing road in darkness. This is not the first time. Socioeconomic advantages are actually disadvantages when all pros and cons combined. Time to "Let Go" of this worn out idea (Not Ideal)!

Daylight Savings Time

Just eliminate it.

DST

Scrap it, PLEASE !

Quit DST

I feel it is totally useless. And I cannot stand having to change all the clocks in my house twice a year.

DST

I find it (changing the clocks back and forth) a disruptive nuisance and we should get rid of it
once and for all. Why don't the politicians do something useful for a change?
If the large majority of us don't want it why do we still have it. DUMP IT!!

Dst

I'm all for stopping it. I see no point.

Dst

I'm all for stopping it. I see no point.

daylight savings time

I really wish DST did not exist. I would like to stay with regular time.

Abolish DST!!

I detest it! Leave the clocks alone!! It is not a healthy practice what so ever!!

DST

Let 2:00 am, Sunday, Nov 4, 2018 be the last time we change our clocks for this lie, which it has been all along, that government has been telling us on behalf of big business. DST has cost large amounts of money and large numbers of lives. Enough is enough. Send it the way of the dinosaurs. Let it die once and for all.

Abolish daylight savings time

Daylight savings time does not create more daylight, it just shifts the time on the clock. It took some really stupid politicians to come up with this dumb idea that it gives more daylight. I say leave the clock alone and abolish this silly law.

DST

As an urban homesteader, I agree hat DST is more a PITA than helpful. It has nothing to do with farming, and in fact makes the adjustment for my livestock difficult. It needs to be done away with.

DST

I really hope that ALL countries abolish this practice. It really messes with my body clock and I really find it extremely hard to adjust. I also feel sorry for farmers - milking the cows at a different time would not be good - they also have a rhythm. Being electricity is NOT being impacted that much, meaning we don't really save a lot of energy, we may even be using more energy, then what is the point? It just upsets everything!!!

DST

Hello there! I live in Saskatchewan, and we are one of the only parts of Canada that does not change time for DST. We follow the sun, and this is easy on our bodies.
Have DST is like instituting a twice yearly jet-lag but without the tropical vacation! (Ohh, that's good, I should quote myself :) ) . It makes people tired and crabby and really doesn't give you more sunlight. If you need to do things earlier, just get up earlier, don't make everyone else change their clocks for you!

The reason that we don't change time is because our province is divided down the middle. We used to change half the province at a time. But people had problems then, for example, farmers going to the government offices in the cities might find that the offices had already closed by the time they arrived, becuase of the time difference. The powers that be thought this was a silly state of affairs, so they made it so that half the province is on standard time and the other half on DST for different parts of the year. They switch. That way, we are effectively on the same time all month long.

Whew. Our bodies are happier for it.

Peace, Rachel.

DST - corrections

I mean, *Having DST...
and "twice-yearly" and, "we are effectively on the same time all YEAR long."

daylight savings time

PLEASE STOP DST----I HAVE ALWAYS HAD AN AWFUL TIME WITH IT.

D.S.T.

I haven't changed my clocks since I was thirteen, and I am now seventy. If you want to go to work an hour earlier so you can go home earlier and enjoy an extra hour of sunlight, work it out with your boss, but don't ram it down my throat. Some of us are night people.

Daylight savings

It is safer for everyone if it stays later out at night, especially during the winter months. Let the sun shine and heat up the roads as long as they can. It will also heat our houses longer.

Daylight Savings

The number of hours the sun shines down on you does not change just because you change your clock. Only the time, according to that clock, changes. Your arguments do not hold water.

True, but ....

True, that the number of hours the sun shines does not change. However, as most people work, go shopping, or go to school, and employers, retailers, and schools don't change their hours, that means kids and adults have to walk to work, the store, or school in the dark because we changed our clocks by an hour causes me concern.

DST

Yes I agree we should have DST all year...

Abolish dst

Easy to set clocks but our bodies are used to routines.

Abolish dst

Easy to set clocks but our bodies are used to routines.

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