What Are We Even Saving?

I am admittedly someone who has never seen the point of daylight savings time. While there can admittedly be some benefit to having a small amount of sunlight in early morning hours when most sane people (myself included) are asleep being transferred to the evening hours where people are out and about, the tendency to maximize supposed saving of daylight means that those morning hours are punishingly dark sometimes. And if I am not exactly a morning person, I can think of enough situations where having sunshine earlier in the morning is a great deal of savings of daylight that people do not often consider.

I happened to have gained this sort of perspective by being someone who regularly had to catch buses in the wee hours of the morning during my time in school. During the time I was in high school, Hillsborough County Schools had a policy that forbade school buses from picking up children earlier than 6AM, and so it was that those students like myself who had to start school before 7:30AM while also changing buses on the way to school at one of the county’s transfer centers (mine happened to be at Tampa Bay Technical High School, less than a mile away from my high school) were often picked up in the wee hours of the morning at between 6:00AM and 6:15AM. And while there were parts of the year where this process was not terribly early, there were certainly times where it was very dark and somewhat dangerous to be hanging out on the corner waiting for the school bus to come.

In many ways, the push to have daylight savings time all year is a sign of the wrong sort of solution to problems that come from switching people twice a year. A sign of the idiocy of the way we like to do things comes as follows–some people see a material benefit in having a short-term profit of having more hours for commercial sales in the evening at the cost of less economically productive time in the morning where daylight is supposedly being wasted. This starts out small enough, but then there are problems in those periods where people are either moving forward or backward in time that cause lag and a lowered degree of productivity and mood and energy and so on. This leads to an expansion of the time where daylight is supposedly being saved until we go well-beyond any sensible period, until everyone is moved into the next time zone to the east, all so that people can wake up in darkness even if they aren’t morning people during the winter all so that there is never any day where daylight does not last until at least 5PM in the lower 48.

The path is as certain as it is inane. First, we begin with a dubious benefit that only applies in very narrow circumstances that people push because they are only looking out for narrow interests but have the power to push for such changes in the midst of a crisis where their interests appear to serve larger interests. Then, evidence that the original change was a bad idea instead are viewed as reasons why the window of the change should be expanded to all the time rather than getting rid of the initial bad idea, instead increasing the costs in general in the sake of consistency and simplicity. The process can be repeated as many times as is necessary to get truly ridiculous conclusions. Perhaps, rather than insist on ever more standardized time that becomes increasingly divorced from the well-being of people, it would be better to return to a time before time zones where there was local time and standards of time based on local conditions of sunrise and sunset, and then to utilize technology and communication to communicate the differences of local conditions based on longitude and latitude, so that everyone would be able to go about their days in a way that saved daylight for all. Such a solution, though, appears increasingly unlikely in such a world as we live in today.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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