Time’s run­ning out on day­light sav­ing shift

The Tribune (SLO) - - Opinion - BY THE LOS AN­GE­LES TIMES

The bian­nual shift­ing of the clocks took place Sun­day morn­ing, and you may be a lit­tle dis­com­bob­u­lated. The tran­si­tion to day­light sav­ing time each March means los­ing the ex­tra hour of night we en­joyed when the clocks shifted back four months ear­lier, and it can take a while for sleep sched­ules to ad­just.

If the twice-a-year clock-re­set­ting leaves you grumpy, you’re not alone; there’s a grow­ing global move­ment to end this point­less and, frankly, weird 20th cen­tury tra­di­tion that has per­sisted de­spite hav­ing no real prac­ti­cal ben­e­fit. The Euro­pean Par­lia­ment is ex­pected to vote to stop ob­serv­ing day­light sav­ing time later this month. Last year, the Florida Leg­is­la­ture voted to move to full-time day­light sav­ing if Congress al­lows it. And in Novem­ber, Cali- for­ni­ans voted to start the process to move to year­round day­light sav­ing time as well. Cur­rently, all states ex­cept Hawaii and Ari­zona ob­serve day­light sav­ing time, but about half are con­sid­er­ing pro­pos­als to stop do­ing so, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Con­fer­ence of State Leg­is­la­tures.

But there’s a dan­ger that this could deepen the time con­fu­sion. While Cal­i­for­nia and Florida and other states are in­ter­ested in mov­ing to day­light sav­ing time year-round, leg­isla­tive pro­pos­als in other states would have them re­turn­ing to year­round stan­dard time (the time we cur­rently keep dur­ing win­ter months). Fed­eral law sets the date we change the clocks, and al­lows states to opt out and stay on stan­dard time (but not day­light sav­ing time).

You can see the po­ten­tial prob­lem: If a hand­ful of states de­cided to stop chang­ing clocks and re­vert to stan­dard time while the rest of the na­tion con­tin­ues to go back and forth and a few states lobby for per­mis­sion to go to full-time day­light sav­ing time, it could lead to chaos, with a bunch of dif­fer­ent states on a bunch of dif­fer­ent times.

For the record, we would pre­fer a na­tional shift to year-round day­light sav­ing, which means more day­light in the eve- ning dur­ing the win­ter, when more peo­ple are awake. A 2001 study by the Cal­i­for­nia En­ergy Com­mis­sion es­ti­mated there might be small sav­ings in en­ergy us­age by stick­ing with per­ma­nent day­light sav­ing time. Sen. Marco Ru­bio (R-Fla.) has in­tro­duced a bill to make day­light sav­ing time per­ma­nent for the en­tire coun­try.

What Congress should not do is al­low states to do their own thing, or force the na­tion to keep ob­serv­ing this out­dated time shift. There’s just no good rea­son to keep skip­ping back and forth in time ev­ery year.

We don’t save en­ergy; the ex­pected large-scale en­ergy sav­ings that drove the in­ven­tion of day­light sav­ing time dur­ing World War I never ma­te­ri­al­ized in peace­time. And though many peo­ple were told the shift had some­thing to do with agri­cul­ture, farm­ers ap­parently couldn’t care less about the num­bers dis­played on our time­keep­ing de­vices. In fact, farm­ers were the main op­po­nents of the 1949 bal­lot ini­tia­tive that started the clock-chang­ing tra­di­tion in Cal­i­for­nia.

If there are any tan­gi­ble ef­fects of jump­ing for­ward and fall­ing back, they may be ones we don’t want. Stud­ies have found a slight in­crease in heart at­tacks and traf­fic ac­ci­dents in the days just af­ter the spring clock change. There’s no proof that this is any­thing more than an in­ter­est­ing cor­re­la­tion, but it’s highly sug­ges­tive given that lack of sleep can de­crease alert­ness and ex­ac­er­bate ex­ist­ing health prob­lems.

Now, the Cal­i­for­nia Leg­is­la­ture should move to the next stage of this process and pass the bill that would make per­ma­nent day­light sav­ing if Congress al­lows it. But with a caveat: The state should only al­low day­light sav­ing to be­come per­ma­nent if it is done by the rest of the coun­try as well. It would be bet­ter to stick with the rel­a­tively harm­less, if an­noy­ing, prac­tice of fall­ing back and spring­ing for­ward an hour ev­ery year than to be­come a place out of time.

Ed­i­tor’s note: Ed­i­to­ri­als from other news­pa­pers are of­fered to stim­u­late de­bate and do not nec­es­sar­ily re­flect the opin­ion of The Tri­bune.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.