Thursday, March 11, 2010

Spring Forward? Why?

This Sunday, March 14, 2010, we "spring" forward, set our clocks ahead one hour, and lose one hour of sleep.


Daylight Saving Time (DST) .

Whose bright idea was this?

The one who said:

"Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. "
Benjamin Franklin (1706- 1790)

As an American envoy to France, Ben Franklin anonymously published a letter suggesting that families in Paris could save 64 million pounds of candle wax in six months by rising earlier to use morning sunlight. (Reference Benjamin Franklin: America's Inventor)

It took well over a hundred years for this American inventor's idea to catch on .... at least, in America.

Daylight Saving Time was first officially observed in the United States in 1918, during World War I, to save energy for war production. And during World War II, FDR instituted year-round Daylight Saving Time, called "War Time," from February 9, 1942 to September 30, 1945.

Between the World Wars and post World War II, communities observed the time change as they pleased. In 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act, which standardized the length of Daylight Saving Time. Today, Arizona and Hawaii are the only US states that do not observe it.

In 2007, DST was extended by four weeks as part of the 2005 the Energy Policy Act. Yet, I can recall the earliest DST time of all. (Other than World War II. I'm not that old.)

The United States was reeling from its first major energy crisis, post World War II. Since the US took sides with Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the Arab states aligned to punish Israel's allies with the Arab Oil Embargo. Hence, this embargo precipitated long gas lines, an energy crisis, a recession.

"On January 4, 1974, President Nixon signed into law the Emergency Daylight Saving Time Energy Conservation Act of 1973. Then, beginning on January 6, 1974, implementing the Daylight Saving Time Energy Act, clocks were set ahead." (Reference: Daylight Saving Time.)

Living in a northern state, I recall walking to school in the dark .... or in the moonlight ... when this law was enacted.

So March 14th? It could be worse. Could be all year round. Could be January 6th. And we could be in a war. Or another energy crisis. A recession. Wait. We are? Hmmm.

"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
George Santayana
Picture from Wiki Commons: Ben Franklin

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