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

Why did the Almanac change?

It wasn't that long ago that the Old Farmer's Almanac only printed Sunrise and Sunset in Standard Time, year round. I was not pleased when you changed that, and I wish you'd go back to doing it.

DST is like an old Chinese proverb

A Chinese proverb says changing clocks is like cutting cloth from one end of the bolt
and sewing it on the other end. What's been gained? We live in northwest MT at
the western edge of the mountain time zone. Consequently, with DST it stays light in the
summer til 11 p.m. and dark in the winter until 8 a.m. Such insanity. Even our local
doctors say its really hard on folks (not to mention the livestock) Abolish DST all together!

People should stop saying this

"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."

There. Is. Not. More. Daylight.

We don't have that power.

Just end it. It's stupid. And unnatural for the afternoon to be longer than the morning.

Abolish/or Readjust “Daylight Savings Time”

I could not agree more! The question is however, “Is anyone in Congress or Government listening or do they even care”? I live in NYC, and I can tell you that I didn’t save a dime when they decided to expand DST in 2008, as every light needs to go on in the house when we get up bc it’s pitch black outside, and again the evening bc it’s dark out.....so what did we save ? Nothing! Matter of fact, Leave Eastern Standard Time alone, or re~adjust it to the original concept & stop the gimmicks for commercial purposes at the risk people’s health and natural well~being. Please and thank you! That “extra hour” is natural to your body and should not be messed with because it’s STANDARD......

Day Light Savings Time

I do not like it, please stop the practice.

Day Light Savings Time

I do not like it, please stop the practice.

Day Light Saving Time

It may have been a good thing at one time but it is completely useless in today's world! I dislike resetting clocks, resetting my dog's routine and resetting my body's routine. Let's end it!!

Gripes about DST

It is always funny to see these articles twice a year. Everyone hates the DST change when they need to change, but I have never heard remarks about removing it in late June or early July when people have extra time in the evening. I wonder what type of comments will occur at these times once DST change is removed.

Year Round DST

Leave it as DST year round. Love the extra daylight in the evening. Leaves more time for doing things outdoors.

DST

I hate it. Pick one time and leave it there.

DST

I am in favor of standard time all the time

DST

Needs to be done away with. People managed way before it came into affect and people will manage again. Change things in government not the time.

DST

I live in Southern New Mexico and my family are farmers and ranchers and we have never agreed to the time change. We wish it could be abolished in the whole state of New Mexico.

DST

Get rid of it. Serves no useful purpose. Leave on standard tile!!

DST

Bad idea to begin with let it go

DST

End It!!!! It is more aggravation than it is useful.

DST

Abolish it. Most seniors that I have talked to have said that it is harder to deal with the time change than when they were younger.

DST

Let's get rid of it, outdated and seems to have more harm than good

Daylight Savings Time

Hate it. Hate Hate it. Praying that it will be abolished

DST

I personally don't like it. My hens are outside wandering around because their bodies are on the wrong time. I can't change them and just have to keep them safe from night hunters like owls, until it gets lighter. Let's go back to what it was. I work as well. I love having dark at a time when it should be dark. You can't garden in the snow anyhow. The need for this change is long since past. So should DST.

comment

it nature policy is canot change time

Daylight Savings time

Please end it. It serves no purpose other than to piss people off twice a year. I dont care which you use but end the foolishness.I hate that its only for retail's benefit.

DST

Outdated and needs to be did away with. Glad that the government can't control the weather and screw it up. Somethings are better left alone. Kids out in the dark catching school buses way before daylight is dangerous.

DST

Do away with DST it makes no sense whatsoever back an forth every year for no reason STOP IT......

DST

Eliminate it, and didn't you know, the government DOES control the weather.

DST

Scrap it. It is a ruse.

DST

I never did believe DST was for farming figuring they based there lives on the sun, moon and season changes. The animals certainly don't care what a clock may say. It's such a disruption on the human body and I just don't see any benefit from changing the clocks. It's time to end DST, life is complicated enough.

DST

At the time when we change the time back , for me now it takes weeks to get used to it so your talking a month or more every year , some just don't seem to be right until the spring rolls around again . Myself I don't see the benefits of the change and would prefer not to make the change , so it gets darker a little earlier and is dark when you get up big deal ,, but you schedule stays the same . I'm all for the scraping of DST .

Daylight time

Get back on standard time and leave it there. If people want an extra hour of daylight, they can get up an hour earlier and do their gardening, go golfing, what ever they want. If they are a business owner, nothing stops them from opening at 7 or 8 and closing an hour earlier. Why can't they leave things alone. Always wanting to change things for just a few.

DST

I think the time should be left alone I don't like DST because it causes to many problems.Ithink that is why so many kids waiting for the bus gets killed because it is dark.

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