It's about time
Regular readers of this column know that Iím not fond of the winter season. Cold weather makes me want to stay indoors all winter, especially when itís cold and wet as it so often seems to be here in the Ozarks.
I also canít stand it being pitch-black at 5:30 p.m.
So, I wasnít at all upset about moving the clock forward by an hour on Sunday for the start of Daylight Saving Time. Itís a sign that spring is on its way, as was Sunday afternoonís sunshine and warmer temperature.
Like just about everything seems to be these days, DST can be a source of disagreement. While I had no problem making the adjustment, one friend groused on Facebook that it will take a month for his circadian rhythms to adjust to the new time.
All that made me curious about the history of DST, so I did a little research. Hereís what I found:
The idea behind DST was first raised in a satirical fashion by Benjamin Franklin in 1784. In a letter to a French newspaper, he suggested that citizens of Paris could save candles by waking up earlier to take advantage of the morning sunlight. DST was first adopted in the United States in 1918, although Congress abolished it after World War I. President Franklin Roosevelt brought it back year-round in 1942, calling it ďWar Time.Ē That lasted until September 1945.
What followed for the next 20 years was a non-uniform system where local governments decided whether or not to observe DST. This caused a great deal of confusion for the transportation industry, so in 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act. The new law allowed states to exempt themselves from DST as long as the entire state did so.
From 1973 to 1975, Congress enacted a trial period of year-round DST in an attempt to conserve fuel after OPEC instituted an oil embargo. The trial period created a great deal of debate, and in October 1975, the country returned to the traditional four months of DST.
Congress has since extended DST twice, most recently in 2005. It now begins on the second Sunday of March and ends on the first Sunday in November.
There are all sorts of arguments for and against keeping DST in its current form or even making it year-round. How DST affects fuel consumption, whether it creates or prevents more traffic accidents and even its impact in reducing crime are all considerations.
I donít know about all that. All I know is spring is coming and Iíll have a chance to sit on the back deck with a glass of iced tea and enjoy the sunshine at 7 p.m. Thatís more than worth losing an hour of sleep on a Sunday.