Let's hear it for voters in California, who took a brave stand on Election Day against our twice-annual ritual of adjusting our clocks as we move into and out of daylight saving time.
Nearly 60 percent of voters in California voted in favor of a ballot measure to leave the state in daylight saving time all year round.
Of course, it's not so much standard time that California voters objected to: Rather, it's the twice-a-year ritual of jumping an hour ahead in the spring and then setting clocks back an hour in the fall. If you're going to bag the time switch, though, you need to decide whether to stick with daylight saving time or standard time; California's Proposition 7 chose daylight saving time, which would be our preference in Oregon as well. (Florida's Legislature has passed a measure called the Sunshine Protection Act, which calls for that state to remain on daylight saving time year-round, but other states have gone the other way: Most of Arizona, for example, remains on standard time year-round, and so does Hawaii.)
Passage of California's Proposition 7 doesn't mean California is about to move to permanent daylight saving time, though: The proposal merely grants the California State Legislature the power to make the switch. Any changes would require a two-thirds majority vote in the Legislature. And then Congress would have to take action, but bills to do away with the time switch have made little progress as of yet on the federal level.)
But the action in California is the latest sign that Americans are starting to weary of the twice-a-year time switch. And the fact of the matter is that daylight saving time, as we currently observe it, simply doesn't make sense any more — if it ever did.
It is not true that Benjamin Franklin was the first person to suggest the idea of daylight saving time; he did write an anonymous letter to a French publication suggesting that the French could save on candles by rising earlier with the sun. It's important to remember that Franklin was joking.
Nevertheless, the idea behind daylight saving time had been kicking around for a century or so, but it wasn’t until 1916 when it was implemented on a large scale: Germany and its World War I ally Austria-Hungary set its clocks ahead an hour to save on energy costs. Other nations, including the United States, followed suit. It's worth noting that other nations abandoned the idea after the end of World War I, but not the United States. World War II saw increased interest in daylight saving time, and the idea really picked up steam during the energy crisis of the 1970s. (The European Commission recently proposed to end daylight saving time, possibly as soon as next year, believing the practice is outdated.)
Franklin was joking, but the joke is on us: Evidence is starting to suggest that daylight saving time doesn't save on energy costs. It may reduce lighting use, but that's offset by increased costs for air conditioning and heating — and increased consumption of gasoline.
At the same time, evidence continues to mount that the twice-yearly time switch brings with it increased health and safety risks. A recent article on the website Vox noted that researchers are tracking an increase in car accidents, workplace injuries and heart attacks in the spring after we spring ahead and lose an hour of sleep. And, frankly, it just doesn't seem like a good idea to mess with sleep patterns in the United States, a nation of sleep-deprived citizens.
We won't eliminate this time nonsense overnight, and it will take action on the federal level. But California's vote is the latest sign that resistance is mounting to the tyranny of these time changes. Is it too much to ask the members of the Oregon Legislature to add their voices to the revolution? (mm)