LOS ANGELES - Daylight saving time is almost over (it ends Sunday, November 6th). We’ll be setting our clocks back and gaining an hour, and it will be getting darker much earlier in the evenings. Gaining an extra hour is better than losing it in the spring, but why do we put ourselves through the time change at all? And no, it actually has nothing to do with farmers.
Farmers are historically opposed to the tradition, because an hour less of morning sunlight has them rushing to get their crops to market. Daylight saving time actually started in the U.S as a way to save energy when we entered World War I. More natural sunlight during the day would theoretically mean less electricity used during our waking hours from Spring through Fall.
Except that it’s hard to determine whether it actually saves energy at all. Does it help to keep the lights off on summer evenings if we have to turn them on earlier in the morning? And now that many more homes have A/C than in 1914, energy use is high anyway. Changing the clock doesn’t change how hot it is.
Studies have linked the bi-annual change in time to everything from a spike in heart attacks to a lessening of eye strain in school children, but experts say it’s actually hard to track the effects. Most agree that the biggest problem is that it’s just confusing, across the country and around the globe. Parts of Europe and most of the U.S. (except for Arizona and Hawaii) make the switch, but not always at the same time. And most African and Asian countries avoid it all together.
Still, it looks like it’s here to stay. A White House petition to end it stalled with a lack of signatures in 2013 and Congress isn’t currently taking steps to change it.
This Sunday you can use the extra hour to protest the tradition, or make up for that hour of sleep you lost in the spring.