Sunday, June 4, 2023

What was the last time the US tried to make Daylight Saving Time permanent?

On March 15, the Senate unanimously passed legislation for year-round daylight saving time.
Illustrations by Milen Soli / Photos via Unsplash, Vecties and Freepik

For 16 months in the mid-1970s, America’s clocks advanced and never lag behind.

The year-long Daylight Saving Time (DST), signed into law by President Richard Nixon in January 1974, sought to maximize evening sunlight and, in doing so, help alleviate the ongoing national gas crisis. But while the experiment initially proved popular, with 79 percent of Americans expressing support for the change in December 1973, approval quickly fell, dropping to 42 percent by February 1974, reported new York Times‘ Anthony Ripley in October of the same year.

A 1918 ad celebrating congress's enactment of daylight saving time

A 1918 ad celebrating Congress’s enactment of Daylight Saving Time

Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The main drawback of permanently setting the clock ahead was the long dark morning hours in winter, which left children going to school when it was “jet black”, as one parent reported. Washington PostBarbara Bright-Sagnier of the time. writing for Washingtonian, Andrew Beauzon noted that eight students in Florida died in traffic accidents in the weeks following the change; In the country’s capital and its surrounding suburbs, similar incidents have led some schools to delay classes until the sun sets.

In October 1975, President Gerald Ford signed legislation reversing permanent daylight saving time. Although approval of the initiative increased over the long summer days, lawmakers quickly ended the planned two-year experiment due to the prospect of another long, dark and potentially fatal winter. As noted in the Senate committee report, a “majority of the public” expressed “dislike” for DST over the winter. The experiment’s seeming failure was accompanied by the fact that according to the Department of Transportation, the change resulted in very little energy savings and actually increased gasoline consumption.

After almost 50 years, daylight saving time is once again making headlines. Yesterday, the Senate unanimously passed legislation for DST, which began on Sunday, March 13, to continue indefinitely, to end the practice of “falling back” or to convert clocks to standard time by one hour. For. Officially titled the Sunshine Protection Act, the bill now heads to the House of Representatives, where its likelihood of passage remains unclear. If approved by the House and signed into law by President Joe Biden, the change will take effect in November 2023, report Luke Broadwater and Amelia Nirenberg. new York Times,

“Last weekend, Americans from Washington state to Florida lost an hour of sleep for no reason,” said Senator Patty Murray of Washington Times, “It’s a burden and a headache that we don’t need. Any parent who has worked so hard to get a newborn or toddler on a regular bedtime understands the complete chaos that turns our clocks.”

Children wearing signs protesting daylight saving, 1939

Children wearing signs protesting daylight saving, 1939

Photo by Walter Kelleher/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Murray’s words echo sentiments shared by a broad swath of Americans. A 2019 survey conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 70 percent of those surveyed wanted to end the practice of changing watches. About 40 percent advocated sticking to standard time throughout the year, while 30 percent preferred to stick to daylight saving time. Beth Ann Malo, a neurologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, outlines the case for Standard Time Conversationwriting that it is “closer to natural light, with the Sun directly at or near noon. In contrast, during [DST] From March to November, the natural light shifts unnaturally to an hour later.”

Proponents of adopting a fixed, year-long program point to the well-documented health and safety risks associated with changing watches. As the American Academy of Sleep Medicine noted in a 2020 statement, the spring shift to DST “increases the risk of adverse cardiovascular events, mood disorders, and motor vehicle accidents.” Reported for Hilary Brooke, on the Monday after the shift insider Last March, hospitals saw a 24 percent jump in patients experiencing heart attacks. In the fall after turning the clock on Monday, meanwhile, hospital heart attacks drop by 21 percent.

“That way your body is fragile and susceptible to even just one hour of sleep,” said sleep specialist Matthew Walker. insider,

Jokingly suggested by Benjamin Franklin in a 1784 paper, daylight saving time was proposed more seriously by New Zealand entomologist George Vernon Hudson in 1895. in the words of National Geographicof Erin Blakemore, he advocated a “two-hour time shift” so that he had sunshine after work hours to go bug hunting in the summer. British builder William Willett later supported the change as a way of encouraging Britons to wake up earlier and enjoy the sun during the summer.

The idea of ​​replacing clocks took hold during World War I, when Germany, England and other countries involved in the conflict sought ways to conserve energy. With more daylight, people would spend more time outdoors and less inside, using up the energy in their homes—or so proponents theorized. (The actual energy-saving benefits of DST continue to be debated today.)

,[The Germans] Willett’s idea of ​​advancing the clock and thus getting more daylight during working hours,” David Prerau, author of Seeing the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Timesaid National Geographic in 2019. “While the British were talking about it year after year, the Germans decided to do it by more or less fiat.”

Senate sergeant charles higgins at arms moves the ohio clock at the u. S. Capitol for the nation's first daylight saving time on march 31, 1918.

Senate Sergeant Charles Higgins at Arms moves the Ohio Clock at the U.S. Capitol for the nation’s first daylight saving time on March 31, 1918.

Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

In February 1918, the United States followed suit, temporarily implementing daylight saving, then known as “wartime”. (The law also established time zones across the country.) The move proved popular with the Chamber of Commerce, which felt that “if you give workers daylight when they leave their jobs, they will stop.” and are more apt to shop on their way home,” said Michael Downing, author of Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving TimeIn a 2015 video.

Contrary to popular belief, Downing wrote in a 2005 editorial new York Times, the “trick of shifting unused morning light into evening” to help farmers maximize daylight hours was not implemented. In fact, farmers relied on morning light to bring their crops and dairies to market, and they actively rallied against the change. As a result, daylight saving was abolished after the war and was reintroduced in February 1942 in the midst of World War II.

The second round of America’s “wartime” ended as the first, revoking the year-long DST in September 1945. A brief period of chaos ensued, allowing states to set their clocks to whatever “standard” they chose. In 1965, according to Downing, 71 of America’s largest cities practiced DST, while 59 did not—a trend that led to the United States Naval Observatory calling the US “the world’s worst timekeeper”. .

Nationwide standardization only came about in 1966, when Congress passed the Uniform Time Act, which divided the year into six months of standard time and six months of daylight savings. The next major development in American timekeeping occurred in the mid-1970s, when Nixon’s failed experiment took place. Although the Department of Transportation concluded that the 16-month policy had little effect on fuel savings, the government agency estimated that DST could conserve up to 100,000 barrels of oil a day – a prediction that prompted Congress to use daylight hours. Motivated to expand savings. A month in both 1986 and 2007.

writing for TimesDowning said the extended DST failed to reduce oil consumption or crime (a 2015 study suggested otherwise), instead keeping more cars on the road during the day; Keeping the US “out of sync with Europe” with major implications for air travel; and makes it difficult for religious groups to perform rituals (such as the Jewish sunrise prayer) at home.

,[A]Nearly 100 years later,” Downing argued, “daylight savings have yet to save us anything.”

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Desk
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