Jeff Ackerman: Give us back our sunshine
Our neighbors in British Columbia have joined residents in Washington, Oregon and California in a fight to stop the confusing and unnecessary ritual of changing our clocks twice every year.
In an informal survey earlier this month, 93 percent of the respondents (nearly 200,000 people) said British Columbia should stay on Daylight Savings Time throughout the year.
Washington and Oregon have already declared their intent to “ditch the switch” and California is waiting for the state Senate to approve a measure to do the same.
Until then, we’ll continue to “Spring Forward” and “Fall Back” every year for no good reason. One of the more depressing days of the year is fast approaching. On Nov. 1 we will move every clock in the house and office back an hour, which means it will be dark when most of you get out of work.
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You’ll walk out the office doors after a day of feeding your 401(k) and into the blackness that is Pacific Standard Time. It will be cold and dark and miserable and all you’ll really want to do is go home, climb into bed and wait for morning. Then you’ll do it all over again until March, when we get to “Spring Forward” and wear flowered shirts, smile at one another, walk out the office doors and into enough sunshine that you might even go home and barbecue with friends and play fetch with your dogs and children.
If that sounds depressing, it is. Nov. 1 is probably the most depressing day of the year, right up there with Tax Day and perhaps Valentine’s Day, depending on your status.
Nobody really knows why we change the clocks. They used to blame it on the farmers, but it was actually the British who started it. Back in World War I they thought we could save energy by messing with the clocks. When the war ended, it was repealed and the government left it up to the states to decide what time it should be until all hell broke loose.
Some cities had Daylight Savings Time and some didn’t. There was a report of a 35-mile bus ride between Steubenville, Ohio and Moundsville, West Virginia where passengers had to change their watches seven times.
That period is referred to as “clock chaos.”
Even if California’s Legislature votes to remain on Daylight Savings Time year-around, the measure will need to be approved by Congress and it sounds as if Congress could care less what time it is in Grass Valley, Portland or Seattle. Florida has been waiting months for the feds to approve its desire to maintain Daylight Savings Time.
It’s why Senator Marco Rubio and a couple of colleagues introduced the federal Sunshine Protection Act. If passed, it would allow any state that participates in Daylight Savings Time to stay on it all year. Arizona and Hawaii are the only two states that do not change the clocks each year. When you have that much sunshine it really doesn’t matter what time it is.
You would think a state that refers to itself as the “Sunshine State,” would be allowed to retain as much sunshine as it wants to, but even Florida has to “Fall Back” every year.
If Congress finds the time to address the Sunshine Protection Act, President Trump promised to support it. At least that’s what he tweeted. “Making Daylight Saving permanent is O.K. with me!” read his tweet.
One University of Washington professor said there are five good reasons for retaining Daylight Savings Time. Topping the list is crime. Having an hour more of sunshine in the evenings gives the bad guys one hour less to do bad things, like rob houses.
Others argue that the mere act of changing the clocks is depressing. We are creatures of habit and it takes us time to adjust to the constant time changes. Our “morning constitutional” is disrupted, which screws up the rest of the day.
A self-induced jet lag.
Most of the opposition comes from schools, ski resorts and golf courses. If we kept Daylight Savings Time through the winter it wouldn’t really get light out until around 9 a.m., which means kids would go to school in the dark.
Or … they could start school later. It’s a win-win. They get more sleep and we get more sunshine after work.
Golfers argue that they’ll lose some tee times if they can’t start until 9 a.m., but who cares? They should be working anyway.
Same goes for the skiers. Why should the rest of us be chased into hibernation so they can get an early jump on the groomed powder? Buy a headlamp.
In these divisive times, there aren’t many issues with the universal support we are seeing to protect our Daylight Savings Time. If Congress is going to continue to grow our national debt, spend money on wars and divide us by blue and red, the least it can do is allow us to keep our sunshine.
Jeff Ackerman is the former publisher of The Union. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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