The Twitterverse lit up on Tuesday with the No. 1 trending topic being the permanent switch to keeping daylight saving time. No falling back. Unanimous Senate approval is now ready for the House and, perhaps, ultimately President Joe Biden’s signature. Known as the Sunshine Act, if this goes through we’ll never change our clocks again.
To be sure, there is a “Save Standard Time” on Twitter and they are adamantly against this change. But most people seem to instinctively support ‘more daylight’ so let’s take a deeper dive into this subject.
First, it’s not MORE daylight
The reason for more daylight in the summer months has to do with the tilt of the Earth and where the sun is in the sky. We will not get any more sunshine on any particular day because of this change. Here are the hours of sunlight on the 20th of each of our 12 months and those hours stay the same:
So you can see that 10 to 14 hours of daylight from winter to summer is what we see every year, regardless of standard time or daylight saving time. So what changes?
When the sun comes up
It’s when that sunlight starts and ends by our clocks that would change. We are simply shifting the sunlight from one part of the day to another. During previous wars, we decided that changing the clocks forward would begin the daylight later and end it later, giving munitions workers more sunlight by which to work in the evenings. After the wars, we went back to normal standard time. In the 1960s, supposedly, the golf industry pushed for more evening daylight so people could play golf after work. Then the candy industry pushed for the extra daylight time to go past Halloween so we changed it to November’s first weekend.
Look at current sunrise times for Dec. 21 versus when we’ll have sunrise if we DO NOT change the clocks back in the fall:
And that later sunrise is what creates problems for so many. Basically, for the whole months of December and January and half the month of February we would not have sunrise until after 8 a.m. Our very latest sunrise right now is 7:17 a.m.
And this will get later the farther north you go in the U.S. Look at International Falls, Minn., where sunrise would occur at 9:05 a.m. That is NINE IN THE MORNING!! And it takes another 20 to 30 minutes after sunrise to really get a bright sky going!
Is this really what you want?
This would mean that those cold, winter morning commutes would be in the dark. Getting kids to school would be in the dark. Walking to school or work, waiting on the bus, crossing downtown streets -- all in the dark. And those dark winter mornings will stay colder longer so any warm-up or snow-melting that the sun offers (and it offers a lot) would be delayed.
Yes, we would have later sunsets in the winter, with our earliest being 6:21 p.m. so we would have plenty of light getting home from work. But those dark mornings, when the day gets going and people get moving (sometimes not fully alert) could prove dangerous. I understand that changing clocks every few months can cause some health issues (increased heart attacks and strokes), but plenty of us vacation to other time zones every year and business folks often change time zones weekly with no problem. I just blogged about how to make that adjustment slowly.
My advice: Look before you leap -- this is not about your sleep!
Frank (who remembers when we did this in 1974 and it was an utter disaster)