Driving Home In The Darkby Brad Warbiany
For a long time, I’ve been pissed off about Daylight Savings Time. In my job, I work with a lot of people across the country, and thus I get into work early (7:30 or so) and leave about 5:00 PM. Before it went into effect this year, each morning I would drive to work in sunlight, and return home in sunlight. I’d have a good half an hour or more of evening dusk when I got home. After it went into effect, I still drove to work in the sunlight, but each day I drive home in the dark.
I had remembered learning, years ago, that it had something to do with making life easier on farmers. Which I never understood, because farmers live far more based on the earth’s clock than man’s. But even so, I never quite understood why the rest of us would be stuck going along with it, when we no longer live an in agriculture-dominated society. Then, they changed the deal, making the duration of DST shorter in the hopes of being more “green”.
It turns out, though, that DST is actually rather pointless AND it is an energy-waster.
The Daylight Savings idea was one of Ben Franklin’s worst. He thought we’d all save candles if, in the summer, we started the day earlier on the clock, leaving more sunshine for the evening.
Politicians made it official: Move the clock one hour forward in the summer, to hoodwink people to get up earlier and leave more daylight hours for after work.
But now it turns out that Daylight Savings Time doesn’t save energy. Matthew J. Kotchen and Laura E. Grant, writing in the New York Times, report on their recent study in Indiana, where implementation of Daylight Savings has been county-by-county, a perfect statistical testing ground.
They found that Daylight Savings cost one percent extra. Franklin didn’t figure on morning heaters and daytime air conditioning.
I lived in Indiana before DST was in effect there, while I attended Purdue. Half the year, I would be on the same time as my parents in Illinois, and half the year I’d be an hour ahead of them. While it was largely an annoyance, it wasn’t that big of a deal. I often chided my hoosier friends* about the residents of their state simply being incapable to comprehend DST and change their clocks.
But — and believe me, it pains me to say it — maybe Indiana was right? Could it be finally time to put an end to DST once and for all?
UPDATE 10:30 PM: Okay, folks… Mea culpa. I said I never quite understood the whole deal about DST, and then I proved myself completely correct. I’m still not a big fan of it, but thanks for pointing out my mistakes.
* For those of you not from the Midwest, you may not understand why those of us from the Chicago area would make fun of Indiana. And for those of you in Indiana, no offense is intended. But Chicagoans speak about Indiana like hoosiers speak about Kentucky… Not kindly.