Oregon might be on the verge of joining the resistance, and it's about time.
No, not that resistance: We refer, instead, to the tyranny imposed on us by the nation's foolhardy twice-annual time switches, as we toggle between standard time and daylight saving time. We're scheduled to make the change again this weekend: On 2 a.m. Sunday, we will once again heed the instructions from our time lords and dutifully spring ahead one hour, losing an hour of sleep forever.
But resistance is growing to these time switches, as evidence mounts that they come with real risks to health. And the last thing an already sleep-deprived nation needs is to lose any more sleep.
So it is with joyful hearts that we report today on Senate Bill 320 in the Oregon Legislature. If the measure passes, it would put this question to voters in the 2020 general election: Should Oregon switch to daylight saving time and stay there year-round?
Oregon is not alone in rising up against these time switches: Puerto Rico, Arizona and Hawaii already don't change their clocks. Legislators in California, Florida and Washington are considering various legislative proposals to do the same. (We like the idea of a unified West Coast stubbornly sticking with daylight saving time year-round.)
Although we have no specific compliant against either daylight saving time or standard time (it's the switching back and forth that we object to), the truth is that the reasons why we adopted daylight saving time in the first place have not panned out.
Although popular legend suggests that Benjamin Franklin was the first person to suggest daylight saving time, it's not true. Franklin did write an anonymous letter to a French publication suggesting that the French could save on candles by rising earlier with the sun. He was joking. But the joke ended up being on us.
Daylight saving time wasn't implemented on a large scale until 1916, when Germany and its World War I ally Austria-Hungary set its clocks ahead an hour to save energy costs. Other nations, including the United States, followed suit. After World War I, other nations abandoned the idea, but not the United States. The idea of daylight saving time really picked up steam during the energy crisis of the 1970s.
But here's the deal: Evidence suggests that daylight saving time hasn't saved 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, it's becoming apparent that the twice-yearly time switch brings with it increased health and safety risks. A researcher at the University of Washington reports that heart attacks increase 24 percent in the week after the United States springs forward. (They also increase a bit in the week after we fall back.)
So the way forward is clear: Do away with the time switches. Choose either standard time or daylight saving time and stick with it. Our preference would be year-round daylight saving time, in part because keeping the extra hour of daylight in the evening would reduce the number of fatal wrecks on the roads and also because it would help deter criminals, who prefer to commit crimes during the dark evening and night hours. Keeping the darkness at bay for an hour would shorten the time in which these scofflaws can operate under the cover of darkness.
We'll still grudgingly turn our clocks forward before we go to bed this Saturday night. But we'll do so with a glimmer of hope that the last time we'll have to perform this odious ritual could be in March 2021; if voters approve the measure in the November 2020 election, we won't switch back to standard time in November 2021. So there could be light, literally, at the end of this particular tunnel. We'll say it again: It's about time. (mm)