Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light

It wasn't exactly what Dylan Thomas had in mind but I'm still raging. Daylight Saving begins this weekend. I love that extra hour of sleep in November, but I'd gladly exchange it for no time change at all. Here in the heart of the Midwest,  we sit pretty badly for such an early change. It has just started getting light about 6:30 a.m. now. Come time change, it will be another month before we see such glorious rays so early. The very thought makes me grumpy. Why, why why do we have to fumble with time?

It was Ben Franklin's idea. I'm guessing he didn't like sleep anywhere nearly as much as I do. Although I'm pretty sure most of colonial America shared my love of a warm bed because thrifty Ben's idea went no where. It wasn't until 1905 that anything happened with Daylight Saving, and it was a Brit who (re)started the movement. William Willett loved his early morning horse rides, and was flabbergasted that the rest of his neighbors chose to sleep through the early morning rays. So, he wrote a pamphlet on how much Britain would benefit from rising earlier. When a bill to introduce Daylight Saving was introduced into Parliament, it was met with huge opposition. Ironically, most strongly from farmers. It is a myth that agriculture benefits from setting the clocks back. Dew still lays heavy on crops in the morning the warmer months and there is little farmer can do with them until the dew has evaporated. The bill died and Brits continued to enjoy a good night's sleep.

World War I and II did that elusive hour of sleep in for the world, however. Troops needed light for battle. Factories needed to save money on electricity by working when the sun was shining.

We've been fiddling with time ever since.

In 2005, the oddest form of greed changed Daylight Saving. Sporting manufacturers and convenience stores lobbied Congress to move the beginning of Daylight Saving up from the first Sunday in April to the second Sunday in March. Their reasoning? Money. Customers frequent their stores and/or use their products more often when the sun is out.

Oddly, the sun is not out any earlier here. In fact, we're thrown into darkness in the mornings for at least another month. Granted it's out later, but how many slurpies can a person drink in that extra 30 minutes of sunlight? 

Congress retained the right to go back to the 1986 Daylight Saving Schedule should the new one prove too contentious. In all honesty, it doesn't seem very likely that will happen. The sporting industry and convenience stores organized, lobbied, and paid for the change. A massive grassroots movement to change what dollars and cents have produced seems an almost impossible Leviathan feat.

There is hope, however. In the United States, Hawaii doesn't observe Daylight Saving. Too close to the equator for sunrise and sunset to change too much.

Think they've got room for one more sleep-deprived, Daylight Saving refugee?

2 comments:

Tabitha said...

I am SO with you on Daylight Savings, but I'm also living in the midwest. We really get the short end of the stick, don't we?

I like that extra hour of sleep in November, too, but I'd gladly give it up to not have to deal with these bleak mornings in the spring. I mean, come on. We've just suffered through winter. Do we really need to add to it???

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I know, it makes me grumpy too. And the kids always struggle getting used to it.