Local

How dark is it when you get home from work? Wait until Monday

A little bit lost in the furor of the election is another rite of fall: turning back the clocks to standard time Sunday.

In South Sound, that means a little more daylight in the morning, a lot more dark in the afternoon and early evening, and the semi-annual adjustment of everyone’s biorhythms.

DST begins in the United States on the second Sunday in March, when people move their clocks forward an hour at 2 a.m. local standard time and it ends on the first Sunday in November, when clocks are moved back an hour at 2 a.m. local daylight time. This year, DST began on March 13 and ends on Nov. 6.

In Olympia, that means the sun rises Saturday at 8:01 a.m. and sets at 5:49 p.m. On Sunday, it rises at 7:03 a.m. and sets at 4:47 p.m.

The concept is frequently credited to Benjamin Franklin, who proposed moving clocks forward to take advantage of extra evening light, saving energy on lighting. But it didn’t begin in the United States until 1918, primarily as a conservation effort during World War I. After the war, it was dropped, until President Franklin Roosevelt brought it back in 1942, as War Time, according to LiveScience.com.

The energy-saving rationale had a firm hold on the policy, but according to Michael Downing, author of “Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time,” it was commercial lobbyists who wanted the extra hour of interaction with London financial markets.

The energy-saving theory is hard to measure, but in 2006, Indiana offered a real-time experiment. The state previously had counties that did or did not observe DST, but adopted DST statewide in 2006.

An environmental economist at Yale and colleagues compared before-and-after electricity use across the state in a 2008 study and found that demand for lighting dropped with daylight-saving time, but demand for air-conditioning rose, more than canceling out the savings from reduced lighting.

Another often-touted reason was to help farmers. Not so, according to Downing. Farmers lobbied against daylight saving, and dairy farmers contend cows don’t easily adapt to changes in milking schedules, he said.

Two U.S. states, Hawaii and Arizona, eschew daylight-saving time. Hawaii, being close to the equator, sees little difference in daylight hours year-round, and Arizona contends that more daytime hours in the heat of summer are unnecessary.

Other states have had efforts to repeal daylight-saving time. In Washington, an effort by John McCoy, D-Tulalip, died last year in the Senate Governmental Operations and Security Committee.

At least twice a year, the arguments come up. Here are some options:

▪ Get rid of it: A common argument against DST is the stress of changing time, with decreased work and productivity during the adaptation period. Proponents cite the benefit of long spring and summer evenings and retailers like increased daylight shopping hours.

▪ Keep it the way it is: The easiest solution requires no change to existing laws, and people are used to it.

▪ Make DST year-round: At least people wouldn’t have to change, and the summer benefits would continue. But winter mornings would be very dark.

▪ Make it easier: A proposal from standardtime.com would end DST and the semi-annual changing of the clock. The theory is that in the United States, Eastern standard time is the same as Central daylight time and Mountain standard time is the same as Pacific Daylight Time. So the proposal is that The Pacific and Central time zones remain on permanent daylight saving time, and that the Mountain and Eastern time zones remain on permanent standard time, reducing the time zones in the U.S. from four to two.

At any rate, for this year, the clocks fall back again Sunday, giving us an extra hour to think about the election.

What do the candidates think? Officials from the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump did not respond to a question from Yahoo Finance. However, a math professor at College of Southern Nevada asked Clinton about DST at a roundtable campaign event in Las Vegas in February, according to an article at finance.yahoo.com

“I will certainly consider that,” she told him. “I honestly think you may be the first person in my 20 years of work who’s ever asked me that. I will take a look. I mean, people have talked about it with regard to energy savings and things like that — but getting teenagers up in the morning is hard under any kind of clock..”

Jerre Redecker: 360-754-5422, @jredecker

  Comments