March 12, 2018


One Hundred Years Later, the Madness of Daylight Saving Time Endures (Michael Downing, 3/09/18, SMITHSONIAN.COM)

Today we know that changing the clocks does influence our behavior. For example, later sunset times have dramatically increased participation in afterschool sports programs and attendance at professional sports events. In 1920, The Washington Post reported that golf ball sales in 1918 - the first year of daylight saving - increased by 20 percent.

And when Congress extended daylight saving from six to seven months in 1986, the golf industry estimated that extra month was worth as much as $400 million in additional equipment sales and green fees. To this day, the Nielsen ratings for even the most popular television shows decline precipitously when we spring forward, because we go outside to enjoy the sunlight.

But the promised energy savings - the presenting rationale for the policy - have never materialized.

In fact, the best studies we have prove that Americans use more domestic electricity when they practice daylight saving. Moreover, when we turn off the TV and go to the park or the mall in the evening sunlight, Americans don't walk. We get in our cars and drive. Daylight saving actually increases gasoline consumption, and it's a cynical substitute for genuine energy conservation policy.

Lawmakers in Florida, of all places, ought to know that year-round daylight saving is not such a bright idea - especially in December and January, when most residents of the Sunshine State won't see sunrise until about 8 a.m.

On Jan. 8, 1974, Richard Nixon forced Floridians and the entire nation into a year-round daylight saving - a vain attempt to stave off an energy crisis and lessen the impact of an OPEC oil embargo.

But before the end of the first month of daylight saving that January, eight children died in traffic accidents in Florida, and a spokesperson for Florida's education department attributed six of those deaths directly to children going to school in darkness.

Posted by at March 12, 2018 7:58 AM