EDITORIAL

Saving our daylight, sort of

Posted 3/22/22

 

In an era where our two dominant political parties can’t seem to agree on whether or not the sky is blue, many were probably shocked when they saw that the U.S. Senate emerged with a …

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EDITORIAL

Saving our daylight, sort of

Posted
 

In an era where our two dominant political parties can’t seem to agree on whether or not the sky is blue, many were probably shocked when they saw that the U.S. Senate emerged with a 100 percent unanimous vote on Tuesday.

No, it wasn’t for a bill codifying a response to Russian aggression or a unified call to combat the global threats presented by climate change. Rather, what caused such a rousing bipartisan effort in one of our legislative houses likely sprang from the most recent event of annoying adjustment we all go through twice a year that, in all honesty, very few people probably understand in the first place — daylight saving time.

Specifically, the Senate vote strives to end the practice of ticking the clocks backwards to “standard time” during the winter months, which we observe each November with the “fall back” portion of the time transition. If the bill is taken up in the House and is approved by President Biden, Spring of 2023 would be the last time we ever have to adjust our clocks forward manually, and that time would remain ticking forward indefinitely, perhaps until time itself stops.

The proposal to stop this constant switching back and forth is widely popular. A 2019 poll cited by Reuters in their report of the bill claims that 79 percent of Americans would be in favor of getting rid of the system. Health experts also agree that messing with our body’s internal clocks twice a year is very much a detrimental thing to do — particularly the effect of pushing our clocks forward in the spring, which effectively snatches an hour of sleep from our natural rhythm and has shown to cause a slight but significant uptick in car crashes, work accidents and heart attacks among the populace.

Anecdotally, we all know the struggle of losing that hour of sleep, even if we’re somewhat delighted by the perceived feeling of experiencing the sun in the morning once again after the dark days of New England’s winter, and seeing the sun for longer during the day before it sets.

But this is all relative, caused by the comparative feeling of setting the clocks backwards that prior November, which results in darker mornings but the perceived feeling of “gaining” an hour of sunlight as the Earth naturally becomes darker during the cold months.

The mere fact that you’ve probably (like us) wrapped your brain in knots trying to decipher why daylight saving time happens, and how it even works, is a good piece of evidence that it’s probably a silly system in the first place. The majority of the world does not observe such a system, and we have only been doing so regularly since the 1960s. The reasoning then was that it would encourage us to conserve energy, but those predictions have not been supported by the mountains of data collected since.

The drawbacks to this change, should it occur, would likely be heard in the grumblings of students and parents nationwide, who will experience very dark mornings waking up and traversing to school more often than they currently do. They may, however, see the benefits in having the sun stay up for longer, far more often than with the current system.

Always bear in mind, by the way, that our arbitrary system of adjusting clocks to try and affect our waking hours has nothing to do with how much light the Earth receives throughout the year. But as we all continue to adjust from the jetlag-like adjustment of “spring forward,” this idea at the moment appears to be a winner.

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