Daylight Saving Time – Bane or Boon?

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The concept of Daylight Saving Time (DST) since its inception in 1916 has seen a lot of criticism. So what is it that puts off people by the name of daylight saving? Is it getting up in the mornings and spending more time in doing physical activity? Or is it the frustration of changing your time back and forth making timekeeping a lot complicated. But is this enough for us to hate daylight savings?

If you thought that changing the time of your watch twice a year was a pain, think about Alan Middleton who changes the time of 4,000 clocks and watches. The British Horological Institute has some of the rarest watches and clocks which include world’s first speaking clock along with a pocket watch belonging to Polar explorer Captain Scot.

Some of the oldest watches date back to 1640s. Alan Middleton takes great care of these watches and it takes him approximately two hours and a half to wind and check all the clocks.

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Alan Middleton Changing Clocks

What is daylight savings?

Many people from the Asian Countries may not be aware of the concept of Daylight Saving Time. It is simply the adjustment of the clock by 1 hour forward during summer time and then bringing it back by one hour before the onset of autumn. The Daylight Savings time usually begins in the month of March which is the beginning of spring and ends in the month of October with the commencement of autumn. Daylight Savings in UK ended on 26th October this year and in the US it comes to an end on 2nd November 2014. This simple video below tries to explain the concept of Daylight Savings.

History of Daylight Savings Time:

History of Daylight Saving Time goes back to the year 1895 when entomologist and astronomer George Vernon Hudson proposed this modern idea. In his leisure time, he would collect insects and during summers he enjoyed it even more as he would get those extra after-hours daylight. So finally, in the year 1916, Germany and Austria-Hungary initiated the first daylight savings event for the purpose of saving coal during the First World War, which has continued ever since by other countries. The daylight savings time became popular during the Oil Crisis of 1973 and the Energy Crisis of 1979 when countries like United States, Canada, Western Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand faced shortages of petroleum.

Negatives:

Many have raised concerns over the daylight savings concept with regards to health. Skeptics believe that DST could, in fact, be one of the major reasons of heart attacks. Also, the act of changing the clocks twice a year is considered to be socially and economically and does not serve any benefits. There has also been a negative outlook by the farmers when it comes to daylight saving. The crops tend to be best harvested when the dew evaporates, but during summer due to their early exit, the labour of the farmers becomes less valuable. In the case of dairy farms as well, the workers tend to have difficulties delivering milk at an earlier time as the cows are sensitive to the milk timings resulting in delay.

DST Complicates a simple task of Keeping track of time

Positives:

It is time for the bright side! Researches around the world have concluded that daylight saving time saves energy. Also, it logically makes sense as if the days were longer than the nights, we would use less of the artificial lights at home as compared to the winters when it gets darker earlier by 1 hour.

Daylight savings time are also known to prevent road accidents to a certain extent, a reduced percentage in crimes and also seen as a good business benefactor.

You spend more of your waking hours in daylight, thus saving electricity.

There has been a notion about the ill effect of daylight savings on health. But a recent medical research conducted by London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University of Bristol shows that daylight savings instead helps in improving public health. An experiment was conducted using 23,000 children aged 9-16 years across nine countries and who wore waist-worn accelerometers to measure their body movements. The results showed that there was an increase of 15-20% in children’s total daily activity during summer time when the sun used to set after 21:00, compared to winter when the sun used to set before 17:00.

For detailed analysis read How Daylight Saving Time might Improve Public Health

The benefits of Daylight Saving Time still seems to be lurking in the dark as the debate continues. For now, the real picture of daylight savings seems to be more of a general acceptance by society by adopting it for the sake of coordination rather than looking at it as a benefit. Daylight savings are here to stay so until next year’s March keep the clocks ticking as they are.

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