JWA Blog

It's About Time

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Summertime was kicked off when we moved the clocks ahead one hour. I grew up in the 50’s so my friends and I loved being able to stay outside and play until 9 or 10 o’clock at night. At dusk we knew it was time to come home or risk getting a good talking to. We never thought to ask, “Why do we move the clocks ahead?” The answer might surprise you.

Modern daylight saving time was first proposed by a New Zealand entomologist, George Hudson, who wanted to see the clocks advanced two hours to give him more time to hunt and collect insects. Alas, poor George was left to go home early because it apparently didn’t catch on.

In 1905 William Willett proposed moving the clocks up in the summer so he could play golf later after work. He was a well to do businessman who tried to influence his friends in Parliament to pass a law to do just that, but failed. A special committee was appointed to study the issue but it finally was just forgotten about. Sound familiar?

During the Great War in 1916, Germany and their ally Austria-Hungary used daylight saving time as a way to conserve coal. With a few exceptions the idea fell by the wayside after WW I until the Second World War. President Franklin Roosevelt instituted year around daylight saving time from February 1942 until October 1945. From then on, here in the U.S. was an inconsistent practice until it was standardized in 1966 by LBJ.

States have the ability to stay on standard time if they so choose and several have turned their nose up to the practice of moving their clocks twice a year. Such is the case in Arizona, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Apparently, people in Arizona don’t care for daylight saving time at all. But, I can understand it in Hawaii and the others because they are so close to the equator. The sun comes up at six in the morning and goes down at six each evening.

I honestly thought daylight saving time was put into effect because it allowed farmers to work in the fields later into the night. Apparently not. In fact farmers find it disruptive. They plan their time around the sun, not the clock. I’m sure everyone has their own ideas regarding daylight saving time. In any event, we moved our clocks back this past Sunday and we got an extra hour to use as we saw fit. Some kids don’t play outside with their friends into the evening like we did. It is unlikely the energy savings is as great today as it was in the 40’s. Farmers have lights on their farm equipment to allow them to work in the fields all night long. So, is daylight savings time still a benefit? What do you think?


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