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Why Do We Have Daylight Savings Time?

Daylight savings or D.S.T. has been linked to many unusual things, such as your diet and headaches. Many scientists have observed D.S.T. to truly understand if it is beneficial to the United States. Some have found evidence that D.S.T. doesn’t work, they say we should get rid of it all together. Many others have found that D.S.T. works perfectly and that we should keep it exactly the same. Then there are a few who think that we should keep D.S.T. year round and stop changing back and forth. Daylight Savings Time has been a controversial topic since 1918. You can see this through the different evidence on how it affects your health and your daily energy consumption.

To truly understand daylight savings time you have to understand its history. Background Info: Many people have heard Daylight Savings time or D.S.T. was enacted to help farmers. It provided more daylight so the farmers could have more time in their fields. As a matter of fact this is false. The truth is D.S.T. was established to preserve daylight and provide standard time for the United States.  When you are located closer to the equator, day and night are the same length. Opposed to living further from the equator where day in the summer is longer than the day in the winter. The U.S. is further from the equator, so the nights are longer. This meant more people had to use light or energy so they could see in the dark.

Daylight Savings Time

The United States decided to copy the idea from Germany and Austria and create D.S.T. in 1918. The U.S. tested out D.S.T. in March of 1918 and 1919 for seven months, during World War l. After the war  people hated it so much that the law got repealed by the end of 1919. D.S.T. was now a local choice. The states that chose to keep the unpopular law were Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and in some cities, such as New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago. Then World War 2 came along with President Roosevelt instituting year-round Daylight Saving Time. This led D.S.T. to be called “war time.” It wasn’t required by law but it was heavily influenced by the government. “This understandably caused confusion, especially for the broadcasting industry, as well as for railways, airlines, and bus companies. Because of the different local customs and laws, radio and TV stations as well as transportation companies had to publish new schedules every time a state or town began or ended Daylight Saving Time.”

Richard Nixon became the next President and enacted the Emergency Daylight Saving Time Energy Conservation Act of 1973. Many people argued over when to stop and start D.S.T. It caused confusion throughout the U.S. The outcome of this confusion was The Interstate Commerce Commission otherwise known as the nation’s timekeeper.  However no progress could be made because no one was willing to compromise. A transportation industry organization took on the issue of standardization, they would be called the Committee for Time Uniformity. They asked the entire country what time difference worked the best. They did this by having telephone operators question the nation. The U.S. still was split on what to do about time. Congress finally decided to make a decision and end everyone’s confusion. They decided to make a uniform time throughout the U.S. The Uniform Time Act was passed  “This occurred During the period commencing at 2 o’clock AM on the last Sunday of April of each year and ending at 2 o’clock AM on the last Sunday of October of each year, the standard time of each zone.” Many citizens were still unhappy with the decision so they were given the option to opt out by passing a state law.

People today are still undecided about whether daylight savings is beneficial to U.S. society or not. Pro Daylight Savings: Some people believe that daylight savings works perfectly, there is no need to change it. They believe D.S.T. can lead to improving the average American citizens health. The time change allows for longer summer nights. This encourages more people to be active at night which promotes more exercise. According to Crow “Not only does this give us extra opportunities to exercise, it also improves our mood.” Just being outside can improve our physical and mental health. This would mean daylight savings improves our overall health by making us happier and more active. D.S.T. also helps our energy usage decrease. The extra hour we are given during the summer night during D.S.T. helps save energy. It saves energy by providing more natural light during the early evening hours. This way people can use the natural light from the sun longer than usual. According to time and date “A German analysis of 44 studies on energy use and D.S.T. found a positive relationship between latitude and energy savings.” In the U.S. because of the difference in our day and night between the two seasons this plan makes perfect sense. The U.S. is within the latitude opposed to other countries that are closer to the equator.

However the other perspective found a totally different answer.Against Daylight Savings: Others believe that D.S.T can affect American citizens health in a negative way. Many studies have shown that our sleeping patterns change too much in the course of one hour. This is linked to an increase of car accidents following the next day. According to procon this change in sleep is also related to “male suicide rates rising in Australia compared to the weeks following the return to standard time in the fall.” The change of one hour in our sleep schedules creates many problems for our body. It is proven that you can become prone to strokes and heart failure. It can cause us to think and react differently then we would without the change. Is the change worth risking ourselves to save energy? The extra hour that we are given during D.S.T. doesn’t help save energy. According to Andrei “44 studies found that DST leads to electricity savings of only 0.34% during the days when DST applies.” The whole idea behind daylight savings was to save energy. If it can’t even save 1% of energy, what is the point? In fact many countries have actually lost energy opposed to saving it. Other studies have found that D.S.T. increases the oil usage therefore increasing our pollution. The main concept for D.S.T. seems to have failed according to these studies so why even keep it. Many people believe we should rewrite the rules for D.S.T.

None of the Above: Others have thought of the idea to keep year round D.S.T. It would keep the long summer nights, while also getting rid of the problems with changing our sleep schedules. For example “the state senate in Florida, by a 33-2 vote that took only a minute or two, passed a bill that asked the U.S. Congress to pass a law permitting Florida to stay on daylight saving time all year long.” The Uniform Time Act allows you to opt out of participating in daylight savings but, it does not say you can alter it. This is an idea that starts a new law hopefully fixing the cons of D.S.T. while keeping the pros.

Since the beginning to now Americans are still undecided about how they feel overall. The research points in all different directions. From the idea of D.S.T. working perfectly to it not working at all. Then there are the people who think we should change it all together. Daylight savings time has created lots of confusion in American society, you can see this through the the different results on how it affects your health and your daily energy consumption.  

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