Why do we still use day­light sav­ing? • By CARMIT SAPIR WEITZ

The Jerusalem Post Magazine - - CONTENTS - • CARMIT SAPIR WEITZ Trans­lated by Han­nah Hochner.

The re­cent de­ci­sion by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion to rec­om­mend that EU coun­tries abol­ish day­light sav­ing time was greeted with great fan­fare in Is­rael. In light of our re­cent tran­si­tion to win­ter time, Meretz MKs Tamar Zand­berg, Ilan Gilon, Esawi Frej, Michal Rozin and Mossi Raz sub­mit­ted a bill to keep day­light sav­ing time all year round.

“Not switch­ing the clocks ev­ery spring and fall will en­able cit­i­zens to con­tinue on with their daily ac­tiv­i­ties and not have their sched­ules dis­rupted twice a year,” they ex­plained. “The main goal of day­light sav­ing was to take ad­van­tage of day­light hours to the best of our abil­ity.”

Nu­mer­ous stud­ies car­ried out in Is­rael and other coun­tries claim that day­light sav­ing helps save tens of mil­lions of shekels in en­ergy costs since it leads to greater out­put. They also in­di­cate that it re­duces the num­ber of traf­fic ac­ci­dents. A third claim is that day­light sav­ing time en­ables peo­ple to en­joy an ex­tra hour of light.

“Now that we’ve changed the clocks to win­ter time, at 5 p.m., when par­ents pick up their chil­dren from school and kinder­garten, they won’t be able to take them to the park be­cause it’s dark out al­ready,” laments Zand­berg. “Not to men­tion that we could also be sav­ing an­other hour’s worth of elec­tric­ity ev­ery day. In Europe, they’ve al­ready fig­ured out that they can im­prove their qual­ity of life by ad­ding an­other hour of sun­light in the win­ter. There’s no rea­son we shouldn’t ben­e­fit from this in Is­rael, too. It would be so won­der­ful if we could keep the same time all year round.”

The EU rec­om­men­da­tion was made af­ter sur­vey­ing 4.6 mil­lion EU res­i­dents, 84% of whom sup­ported can­cel­ing the hour change. Turkey, Rus­sia and Iceland have al­ready de­cided to keep the same time all year long. There has been much con­tro­versy be­hind this prac­tice for years. The orig­i­nal idea is at­trib­uted to Ben­jamin Franklin, who first in­tro­duced the prac­tice in 1784. In 1895, New Zealand sci­en­tist Ge­orge Hud­son claimed that the prac­tice would save en­ergy, and in 1916, Ger­many was the first coun­try to im­ple­ment day­light sav­ing time fol­low­ing a coal short­age. Soon there­after, Aus­tralia, the US and Turkey fol­lowed suit.

Day­light sav­ing time was in­tro­duced to Pales­tine in 1940 dur­ing the Bri­tish Man­date pe­riod, and with the es­tab­lish­ment of the State of Is­rael, it was de­cided to con­tinue fol­low­ing this prac­tice. In 1958, how­ever, day­light sav­ing was dis­con­tin­ued un­til then in­te­rior min­is­ter Yosef Burg rein­tro­duced it in 1974, and then over­turned his de­ci­sion in 1976. At this point, the High Court of Jus­tice ruled that Is­rael would fol­low day­light sav­ing time. In 1992, the Time Deter­mi­na­tion Act was passed, which stated that sum­mer time would last at least 150 days. A mi­nor amend­ment was added in 2005.

A num­ber of com­mit­tees in­ves­ti­gated the pros and cons of us­ing day­light sav­ing, in par­tic­u­lar its ef­fect on elec­tric­ity, the econ­omy, the­aters and ed­u­ca­tion. A num­ber of moth­ers claimed that putting their chil­dren to sleep while it was still light out­side was ex­tremely dif­fi­cult. One com­mit­tee rec­om­mended lim­it­ing sum­mer hours to June through Septem­ber, while an­other rec­om­mended leav­ing it in the cur­rent form, but car­ry­ing out an ad­di­tional sci­en­tific study.

“Con­trary to pop­u­lar opin­ion, day­light sav­ing does not have any sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic con­sid­er­a­tions,” says Erez Zadok, an econ­o­mist and CEO of Aviv Funds. “NIS 300 mil­lion might seem like a large amount, but it is in­signif­i­cant com­pared with the amount of en­ergy we’d save, im­prove­ments in road safety and over­all en­hanced qual­ity of life. Sur­veys car­ried out in Europe and the US show that most peo­ple are in fa­vor of fore­go­ing the bian­nual time

change. Even the Abuav Com­mit­tee de­ter­mined in 2013 that it’s not a re­li­gious is­sue, but a mat­ter of qual­ity of life.”

“Stud­ies show that the num­ber of road ac­ci­dents in the dark morn­ings in­crease slightly, but the num­ber of ac­ci­dents oc­cur­ring in the af­ter­noons when there’s more light was re­duced sig­nif­i­cantly,” Zadok con­tin­ues. “In ad­di­tion, a study car­ried out in the US shows that there’s a 25% in­crease in heart at­tacks in the week fol­low­ing the time change. In Europe, in the three days fol­low­ing the time change, there was a 5% in­crease in heart at­tacks.

“In fact, en­ergy use was found to be a less sig­nif­i­cant fac­tor,” says Zadok. “In some coun­tries, day­light sav­ing brought about an in­crease in en­ergy use, but in oth­ers there was no dif­fer­ence or even sav­ings. It ap­pears that many coun­tries around the world are pre­par­ing to can­cel day­light sav­ing since it is the will of the cit­i­zens.”

In Is­rael, re­li­gious con­sid­er­a­tions also play an im­por­tant role in de­ci­sions re­gard­ing day­light sav­ing. Some claim that can­cel­ing the cur­rent for­mat would make it dif­fi­cult for re­li­gious men to get to morn­ing prayers on time. How­ever, af­ter con­sult­ing with rab­bis, the most re­cent com­mit­tee de­cided that it is not a ha­lachic is­sue in any way or form.

“Over the years, day­light sav­ing was per­ceived as an is­sue on which the re­li­gious and sec­u­lar com­mu­ni­ties clashed,” says Rabbi Avi No­vis-Deutsch, dean of Schechter Rab­bini­cal Sem­i­nary. “But as with all is­sues, there are both pros and cons. For ex­am­ple, do peo­ple pre­fer to have more light in the morn­ing or more light at the end of the day?”

And what about the claim that re­li­gious peo­ple ben­e­fit from day­light sav­ing time?

“This is not true,” No­vis-Deutsch says. “Granted, it does en­able peo­ple to pray early in the morn­ing and then still have time to take their chil­dren to school and get to work on time. But in­stead of con­tin­u­ing to treat this is­sue as a re­li­gious–sec­u­lar con­flict and pro­long­ing the power strug­gle, we should en­gage in di­a­logue, con­sider all the as­pects and find an in­terim so­lu­tion, such as lim­it­ing the pe­riod to a min­i­mum num­ber of days.”

“Over time, the num­ber of dis­senters among re­li­gious Is­raelis has di­min­ished,” says Ofer Arian, a se­nior po­lit­i­cal sci­ence lec­turer at the Jezreel Val­ley Aca­demic Col­lege. “It ap­pears that the Is­raeli pub­lic is ready to can­cel day­light sav­ing time, and will be happy to avoid all the con­fu­sion the change in clock cre­ates, such as sleep­ing dif­fi­cul­ties, de­cline in out­put and the over­all sense of dis­com­fort that leads to frus­tra­tion. All of this will be avoided if we leave the time in­tact all year long.”

(TNS)

(Fritz Co­hen)

OUT FOR the even­ing on Dizen­goff, 1958.

(Left: Fritz Co­hen; right: Moshe Mil­ner)

DAY AND night in two Tel Aviv cafés: En­joy­ing re­fresh­ment on Ben-Ye­huda Street, 1957 (left) and Atarim Square, 1980.

(Avishag Shaar Yashuv)

LEFT: ECON­O­MIST Erez Zadok.

(Miriam Elst)

MK TAMAR ZAND­BERG.

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