Why do we change clocks, are daylight savings for environmental benefits?

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Changing clocks, daylight savings, Franz Ferdinand

We’re so used to changing the clocks for daylight savings every spring and fall. But why do we do it? Enjoying these October evenings? As summer slowly dies (northern hemisphere), those endless evenings have been gradually ebbing away, and our bodies and brains adjusting to the new normal of dark and cold. Then. Bang. The clocks ‘fall back’ an hour, late on Saturday night. The fantasy of ‘an extra hour in bed’ is instead the shock of earlier darkness where once was light. The reason why the clocks change is lost in the bullshit of World War One, when the ‘glorious dead’ piled up pointlessly in filthy trenches, in defence of stupid treaties and something to do with the Austro-Hungarian empire (like, what even was that and who the hell was Franz Ferdinand, besides a Glaswegian band from the 2000s?). Allegedly, changing the clocks for winter gave the peasants an extra hour of hellish toil in the mornings, or it saved on candles, or something. The Germans brought it in, just before the British, in 1916. Take me out, kaiser!

Now we have electric light

Today, candles are not such a big deal and the permanent war effort works on electric light, so why do we insist on springing forward and falling back and messing with our circadian rhythms? Interestingly, the UK stuck to the summer hours (i.e. no ‘fall back’) from 1968-71. This resulted in fewer traffic accidents in the brighter evenings, but the northerners whinged, so the twice-a-year change was re-introduced.

The European Union sees sense!

Only the countries in blue and orange continue changing clocks for daylight savings.

On March 26, 2019, the European Parliament voted in favour of removing Daylight Saving Time permanently. If the law comes into effect, 2021 may be the last time EU member states follow the seasonal clock change. Each EU member state had until April 2020 to decide whether to remain permanently on “summertime” or to change their clocks back one final time to permanent standard time, also known as “wintertime.” And, if you think that every country changes clocks for daylight savings, follow the Wikipedia link below!

Let’s keep summer going as long as possible

My gut tells me that we should hang on to those summer evenings as long as possible into autumn/fall, but this could be a great opportunity to make a sensible decision based on what state will both reduce the risk of accidents and also be of greatest benefit to the environment in reducing CO2 emissions. Waiting to see any kind of consultation process in Ireland, but maybe that’s only happening in the agricultural media? Let’s get the finger out and do this, and for the best reasons.

When do the clocks go back in 2020?

In Ireland, Britain and Germany (where this all began!), the clocks go back one hour on Sunday, October 25, 2020.

In the United States, the clocks go back one hour on Sunday, November 1, 2020.

The altered difference in time between Europe and the US for that week is just another annoying aspect of this whole thing. We need to make the world simpler, people!

Learn more

CNN story, Sept 2020: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/09/03/health/daylight-saving-time-sleep-wellness/index.html

Does Daylight Saving Time save electricity? (Yes, 0.34%) Meta analysis: https://meta-analysis.cz/dst/dst.pdf

Wikipedia: Daylight savings time: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daylight_saving_time

Wikipedia: Daylight savings time by country: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daylight_saving_time_by_country

Image credits

The Battle of the Somme: Wikimedia Commons

Changing clocks, daylight savings by country: By TimeZonesBoy – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17593495


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