Daylight Saving (is not the worst of evils)

Well hi there! At this point on Sunday, I’m going to assume you’ve remembered that your clock should have been set back last night. With the advent of cell phones and auto-updates, I suspect the incidence of “showing up to church an hour early because no one remembered daylight saving time” has dropped precipitously since I was a kid.

Growing up, daylight saving time was always the subject of some debate in my house. My dad is a daylight saving time defender, and takes a lot of joy in pointing out to people that no matter how irritated you are by the time change, not changing the time would be even more annoying.

To support his point, I found this site that someone posted on Facebook rather interesting. It’s by a cartographer, and it lets you see the impact of Daylight Saving on the different regions of the country. It also lets you monkey around with different schemes….eliminate daylight saving vs impose it permanently vs keep the status quo…and see what impact they’d have on the sunrise/sunset times. (Note: he created it in 2015, so some numbers may not reflect the 2017 time changes)

My Dad’s point was always that daylight saving blunts the extremes, so I tried out a few different schemes to see how often they made the sunrise very early vs very late. For example, here’s how many days the sun would rise before 5am in different regions if we keep things status quo vs eliminate daylight saving vs always use it:

If you go to the actual website and hover, you can get the exact number of days those colors represent. If we did away with daylight saving, my region of the country would have over 120 days of pre-5am sunrises. I’m an early riser, but that seems a little much even for me.

Here’s how it would effect post-8pm sunsets:

So basically my Dad was right. If you want lots of early sunrises, push to abolish daylight saving. I think most people sort of know that’s what the time change thing is all about, but it is interesting to see exactly how many early sunrises we’re talking about. When you consider that the sky starts to lighten half an hour before sunrise, you realize that getting rid of daylight saving is signing yourself up for a LOT of early morning sunshine.

I think the real PR problem here is that the time changes happen so far away from the extremes that people forget that it’s really designed to help mitigate situations that would occur several months later. I think there’s a new bias name in here somewhere.

10 thoughts on “Daylight Saving (is not the worst of evils)

  1. One of the things I have taken exception to is that Congress decided that more DST was better. Growing up, the clocks changes the last Sunday in April and switched back the last Sunday in October. There was a certain symmetry to that as it constituted exactly 6 months of DST and 6 months of standard time. We now have more like 8 months of DST, extending it to times of year that it seems of little to no value. When the “energy crisis” hit in 1973, I seem to recall that Congress decided that 12 months of DST was going to benefit energy consumption, which resulted in millions of children standing in the dark waiting for the school bus. That didn’t last long.

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  2. I’m grudgingly in favor of the older DST switch (April and October), especially because the extension puts us out of sync with the European folks to switch to Summer time in their countries. It reeks havoc with our meeting schedules since we coordinate with offices in Edinburgh, Lytham (UK), and the Netherlands.

    I think more people would accept DST if it was explained in this fashion instead of some of the downright silly explanations that have been offered in the past.

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  3. Here’s how it would effect post-8pm sunrises…
    To the best of my knowledge, post- 8 p.m. SUNRISES are rather uncommon, Perhaps if we were dealing with negative or imaginary numbers…:)

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  4. I don’t care so much about early sunrises (although they do tend to wake me up earlier than I would like). But I love having more time to do things outside in the evening, and that is what DST does for me. I think the folks who complain about the inconvenience of the time change would be surprised how much they miss the extra daylight on all the days when, say, it gets dark at 6:00pm, instead of 7:00pm.

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