March 15, 2007

Apparently, I'm suffering from "Daylight Saving Time Jet Lag", as Ian put it this morning. The clock may say it's time to wake up, but my circadian rhythms want that hour back.

I don't like DST. According to my mother, I never have. And this year, I like it even less. By extending DST for one month, starting on the second Sunday in March and running to the first Sunday in November, "Daylight Saving Time" now lasts for 34 weeks. That's 65% of the year. Which means that "Standard Time" is only 18 weeks (35% of the year). If "standard" still means what we commonly accept it to mean, then DST is the new Standard Time. Perhaps it's silly, but the mislabeling really bothers me.

I'm also bothered by the increased disjointedness between humans and natural rhythms. The clock and our methods of measuring time are completely arbitrary, but they do make sense when there is some relationship between the clock and the sun. By moving the hands on the clock, though, we are attempting to compensate for the fact that we can't control the sun. And, frankly, I think humans should be accepting and even grateful of that fact.

So, please, can we leave the clocks alone? If moving an hour of daylight to the evenings really results in astounding savings in barrels of oil, let's adjust something that's within our scope. As far as I know, it's not inscribed anywhere that business hours must be 8am to 5pm. In the summer, open businesses at 7am. In the winter, open at 8 or 9am. Use all the daylight the season has to offer, whenever it happens to be.

I'm not convinced that the total energy savings is really worth getting all worked up about, anyway. Moving the clocks forward moves darkness to the morning, when we are all waking up. We heat our houses earlier, turn on more lights, and get into more traffic accidents as a result. School age kids, especially teenagers, do worse in school. So there's more light in the afternoons and we turn on lights and TVs at home later. But we're also out driving our cars and "growing the economy" more, which consumes energy, probably more all told than what we'd use if we all were at home.

Last week, I woke up with the sun shining on the bedroom windows. I woke up feeling refreshed, invigorated, ready to face the day (more or less, I'm still not a morning person). This week, it's darker outside when the alarm goes off, and I have to fight my way out of a dense sleep fog and drag myself into the day all because Someone Somewhere thought messing with the clock would save a barrel of oil. I'd wake up earlier and take advantage of the naturally increased amount of daylight all on my own in a month or so, and I wouldn't have this foggy feeling in my head.

And if that Someone thinks maybe we should save a few barrels of oil, maybe Someone should stop focusing on the small change, holding two pennies tightly in each hand while the silver dollars tumble through the holes in the pockets. Increase fuel efficiency? More solar panels? Alternative energy? Mass transit and incentives for telecommuting? Anyone? Anyone?

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