The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Count me among the Standard Time "stans"

The Daylight Saving Time arguments that crop up twice a year encapsulate American decision-making so well. People argue for one position or another based on what works best for them; people predict doom and gloom if their view doesn't prevail; Congress makes a change that everyone hates (and, as in 1975, they have to repeal); and not a lot changes. It also has nuances that most people don't understand (or care to) and stems from a social construct completely within our control that people think is a fixed law of the universe (i.e., clock time).

Because I live just east of my time zone's standard meridian, and at a latitude that sees a six-hour daylight difference between solstices, I believe year-round standard time would be best. Katherine Wu agrees:

I gotta say, the science (pushes glasses up nose) largely backs me and my fellow standardians up. Several organizations, including the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, have for years wanted to do away with DST for good. “Standard time is a more natural cycle,” Pelayo told me. “In nature we fall asleep to darkness and we wake up to light.” When people spend most of their year out of sync with these rhythms, “it reduces sleep duration and quality,” says Carleara Weiss, a behavioral-sleep-medicine expert at the University at Buffalo. The onset of DST has been linked to a bump in heart attacks and strokes, and Denise Rodriguez Esquivel, a psychologist at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, told me that our bodies may never fully adjust to DST. We’re just off-kilter for eight months.

For years, some researchers have argued that perma-DST would cut down on other societal woes: crimetraffic accidentsenergy costs, even deer collisions. But research on the matter has produced mixed or contested results, showing that several of those benefits are modest or perhaps even nonexistent. And although sticking with DST might boost late-afternoon commerce, people might hate the shift more than they think. In the 1970s, the U.S. did a trial run of year-round DST … and it flopped.

We could also redraw the time zone boundaries to move more people closer to the center meridians, but that would involve even more nuance and recognition that these things are human constructs we can change.

(Also: I wonder if Michigan is so weird because so much of the state is in the wrong time zone?)

Comments (1) -

  • David Harper

    11/6/2022 4:51:59 PM +00:00 |

    Fun fact #1: Britain also experimented with year-round DST, between 1968 and 1971. Public opinion was mixed in England and Wales, but strongly against it in Scotland, where sunrise was pushed back to 10 a.m. in from November to January across much of that country. Parliament ended the experiment in 1971 and it has never been repeated.

    Fun fact #2: When Congress considered extending DST in the 1980s, both senators from Idaho were persuaded to vote in favour, on the grounds that longer autumn evenings would increase the sale of French fries, which are made from Idaho potatoes.

    Fun fact #3: In Idaho,  the Mountain Time/Pacific Time boundary cuts the state in half south/north. Southern Idaho matches its clocks to Utah, but northern Idaho has closer economic ties to Washington state so it keeps Pacific Time. If you're on Highway 95, the main north/south route in Idaho, you have to change your clock as you cross the Salmon River just north of Riggins.

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