Daylight Savings Time: Pros and Cons by Nathalie Mairena

Beginning March 9, daylight saving time begins. It marks the beginning of dark mornings and light afternoons. Many see it as an unnecessary hassle, having to set their clocks an hour forward and having to get used to a sudden time shift. Is it really an arbitrary ritual or is there really some use it?

The idea of daylight saving was started by an English builder named William Willet, who published the idea of daylight’s saving time in his pamphlet, “The Waste of Daylight”, in 1907. In it, he argues that if the clocks were simply moved up 80 minutes between April and October would result in more time spent outdoors and enjoying the daylight. Rumor has it that he proposed this idea to have more time to play golf after work.

The concept was enacted in World War I in Germany, followed later by Great Britain and the United States. The idea in the United States was not viewed well and was repealed, only to come later unregulated, resulting in a mess of different time and confusion. In 1966 however, the Uniform Time Act was passed, regulating the practice nationwide to what the country has today. The practice has also spread across the world.

So enough with the history lesson; the big question still remains-is it actually an effective way to save energy?

Like with everything, it has its cons. For one thing, there is that dreaded adjustment period that occurs every time you turn your clock forward. People complain of headaches, sleepiness, and confusion while transitioning into daylight saving time.

There have also reports of mobile phones and computers in Australia and New Zealand are badly affected by the change in time. There are also reports of mixed and missed flights and schedules going awry due to the time shift.

Parents have complained about having to send their kids out to wait at bus stops in the morning in the dark, a complaint that students also share.  Farmers have also had their fair share of complaints, arguing that the change in time causes slower business.

So what about the pro-side? For some, they feel the advantage of having an extra day of sunlight to do what they please.

There has also been a link between traffic accidents and daylight saving time, according to a study done by the University College of London and Transport Research Laboratory in the United Kingdom.

When it comes to saving energy, there are research studies that support and deny the claim. According to a study done by the U.S Department of Transportation in the 1970s, the United States uses one percent less of energy each day we go through daylight saving time. But there is pleanty of evidence against this.

In a study done in 2006 by scientist Kotchen and his colleague Laura Grant, they found that daylight savings had a completely adverse affect, actually adding one percent overall to the use of electricity being used. In 2007, California Energy Commission resource economist Adrienne Kandel and her colleagues found that there was actually no affect at all, for or against the claim of daylight savings time saving energy.

So is daylight savings time a good idea? There is actually so little research over the subject that conclusive data has yet to be reached. While some may enjoy the sunlight, others detest the sudden lack of an hour in their sleeping schedule. Until more research is done, the best thing to do is enjoy the sun and be ready to adjust your clocks this March 9.

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