April 3, 2005
If you're like me, last night's imposition of "Daylight Savings Time" (hereafter referred to as DST) caught you somewhat by surprise, disrupting your life and angering you. Concerned over whether DST is a good thing or an evil thing, I decided to consult the "Internet". This "Internet", however, was unable to offer me a definitive answer. It seems that the debate over the goodness of DST is a lively one. The most concise survey of the highly contentious DST debate can be found in this Wikipedia article. Though you should really read the article, I'll outline its description of the cases for and against DST for your convenience:
CASE FOR GOOD
- Conserves energy.
- Encourages outdoor activities.
- Prevents traffic injuries and crime (because it's lighter later).
CASE FOR EVIL
- Disruption of sleep patterns causes spike in severe auto accidents.
- Decrease in lighting costs offset by increase in summertime air conditioning costs (this also invalidates studies done before the wide availability of air conditioning).
- Discriminates against agricultural workers "because the animals do not observe it, and thus the people are placed out of synchronization with the rest of the community."
DST is not universally observed. The Wikipedia article describes the complicated case of Indiana, where the legacy of DST controversy has prompted a fragile compromise between opposing factions that functions as follows:
"77 counties, most of the state, are on Eastern Standard Time but do not use DST;
5 counties near Chicago and 5 counties in the southwestern corner of the state are on Central Standard Time and do use DST; and
2 counties near Cincinnati, Ohio and 3 counties near Louisville, Kentucky are on Eastern Standard time but do observe DST. Their observance of DST is unofficial in this case, as a strict reading of the Uniform Time Act would not allow for this situation, but by observing DST they remain synchronized with the greater Louisville and Cincinnati metropolitan areas."
Another Wikipedia article describes a not entirely dissimilar "complex web of alliances and counterbalances" that, according to the conventional wisdom, scored the assist for World War I.
Illustration courtesy of the Courier Journal (Louisville, Kentucky).
Posted by George Wukoson at 6:09 PM