Permanent daylight saving time: Was Senate right to pass bill?


Fact Box

  • On March 15, 2022, the US Senate passed a bill that would allow daylight saving time to be permanent as of 2023, which would stop the biannual time changing of clocks in order to promote “brighter afternoons and economic activity.” 
  • Although often credited with inventing the idea of daylight saving time, Benjamin Franklin, in 1784, mentioned the notion of “diminishing the cost of light” in a satirical open letter to the citizens of Paris. 
  • Daylight saving time was first made into law in Germany in 1916 to conserve electricity during World War I. In the US, the Uniform Time Act 1966 adopted standard time zones on March 19, 1918. 
  • Hawaii and Arizona are the only US States that do not observe daylight saving time along with territories Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Marianas. 
  • According to an October 2021 AP-NORC poll, most Americans want a standard time year-round; 32% prefer daylight savings time while 25% prefer the biannual time change.

Andrew (Yes)

The origin of daylight saving time (DST) lies with the misguided idea that we will have more sunlight by moving the clocks one hour, twice a year. While this does produce an extra hour of evening sunlight in the spring, the same move makes the sunset occur an hour earlier in the fall. Similarly, just as the early spring mornings are beginning to become lighter, we change the clocks back and plunge early morning commuters into darkness again. Changing the clocks is simply robbing Peter to pay Paul, and Congress is right to end this needless change.

The common myth that farmers called for daylight saving time is false, and many farmers have actually expressed opposition to the practice because it disrupts their animals' natural rhythms. Similarly, people's sleep schedules are disrupted, leading to a potential list of problems ranging from crankiness to heart problems and accidents due to drowsiness. With all of these potential downsides and no real advantages, it makes sense for Congress to stop this semi annual ritual.

Finally, changing the clocks back every year is often very annoying. People frequently joke that the clocks in their cars will be wrong for a year because they're so notoriously difficult to change. There is always uncertainty for several days as we try to navigate which devices have changed automatically and which are still showing the wrong time. Luckily, these annoyances are so common that even our divided Congress can come together to keep us on DST permanently.

Curtice (No)

The Senate recently passed a bill that would make daylight saving time (DST) permanent throughout the entire year. This measure was not necessary and was wasteful of government time and resources. The US first adopted DST in 1918 to conserve fuel during the war, but it was unpopular and rightfully stopped following the end of World War I. A second trial by FDR during World War II was just as unsuccessful and was ended shortly thereafter. 

Again, the original idea behind DST was to conserve energy for the war effort. Today, however, our military runs continuously, day and night. Therefore, any change to DST is irrelevant to the military. Besides, savings in heating costs is generally more than offset by increased air conditioning costs.

Two states today, Arizona and Hawaii, do not adopt this “spring forward” time, where clocks move up an hour. Arizona, for example, often has 100 degree nights during the summer months; the state doesn't need yet another hour of “nighttime sun” in the summer. Both states manage fine without DST. 

Implementing DST permanently (so that clocks do not “fall back” an hour at the start of winter) would mean kids would routinely go to school each morning in the dark as the sun would not rise in the Midwest, for example, until after 8 AM in winter months. With many schools being closed and kids forced into remote learning for much of the last two years during COVID, school children have had enough challenges with learning. Starting the school day in the dark only makes learning more difficult, as many report feeling more groggy after implementing “spring forward” or DST. If the main purpose is to eliminate changing clocks twice a year, we should eliminate DST permanently.

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