Study started: Daylight Saving Time
Depending on who you ask, Daylight Saving Time is the best idea ever or the worst thing to happen to mankind since the Bubonic plague.
Online publication The Atlantic Wire called it “the greatest continuing fraud ever perpetuated on American people.”
That may be going a bit far, but people have been struggling with this simple question for decades: Does DST save the money and energy it was intended to?
In an effort to figure that out once and for all, scientists and health professionals began weighing in on the great daylight debate, serving to further leave people in the dark.
Some doctors blame DST for an increase in heart attacks that happen the Monday after the time change. Some say it disturbs the body’s natural sleep schedule, causing a slew of other problems. Some say it also helps increase the prevalence of Seasonal Affective Disorder, because “morning light” does different things to the body than “evening light.”
Some studies show an increase in car accidents that can be attributed to DST because the loss in early morning daylight makes it more dangerous for pedestrians crossing streets while others show a decrease in accidents because of the extra hour added in the evening. Countless studies have been done, but nothing has ever been conclusively found to say whether DST is worth the effort.
So we keep doing it because, well, we’ve always done it. At least, some of us have always done it. Since the ’70s. Kind of.
Arizona still refuses to adopt DST. Indiana fought its own mini civil war against it, causing some parts of the state to use DST while others didn’t. It was finally fully adopted by Indiana in 2006.
Who knew that one little hour could cause so much controversy for so many years?
Since its inception in some European countries in the early 1900s, DST has been shrouded in mystery. Where did it come from? Why did it start? (It’s not because farmers needed more daylight during the summer, as many of us were told as kids. In fact, the farmers are often against DST, since it gives them less time to ship crops and messes with the milking of dairy cows.)
DST is an idea often attributed to Benjamin Franklin. But it wasn’t until British builder William Willet and later, British politician Robert Pearce came along that the idea began to take hold.
Pearce first offered legislation in the British House of Commons in 1909, but it was Germany that made the change first, followed then by Great Britain.
It has since been adopted off and on by countries all across the world, typically peaking in use in times of war, as the practice is often thought to save energy.
And that’s your mini-history lesson for the day, courtesy of www.webexhibits.org.
You’d think we’d be able to answer the time-honored DST question, with so many studies done and so many different voices wieghing in on the debate. But it appears this is just one of those things that will remain hotly contested until the end of time.
All I know for sure is I don’t want to have a heart attack on a Monday. Or get into a car accident. Or not get into a car accident. Or get SAD. Or look at any more studies. It’s all too much to take in.
But then again, I might just be groggy from the time change.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Jackie Stark is a Chocolay Township resident and a staff reporter at The Mining Journal. Her column appears bi-weekly. She can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.