Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Trouble with Daylight Savings Time

OK, so here at The Green Miles, we talk about lots of environmental issues, some of them big and pressing (like, say, global warming), and some of them minor but interesting (like, say, organic beer). This is probably in the latter category.

Most of us think of
Daylight Savings Time as an inconvenience that screws up our brunch plans twice a year. However, there are some serious arguments against changing the clocks twice a year. One is that it screws up the internal clocks of an entire nation, making it hard for people to wake up for days or even weeks after. An extension of that is that studies have shown that the shift increases traffic accidents for that adjustment period.

But those causes can be taken up by other blogs. What we're worried about is the environmental case -- that the switch back to Standard Time
results in higher energy consumption. If we held to Daylight Savings Time year-round, it would result in a small but perceptible reduction in energy usage -- probably about 1 percent.

On a household level, that's not much. But on a national level -- especially in a nation that relies on fossil fuel for power -- that's an equivalent savings of hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil.

So why hasn't something been done about it already? The biggest obstacle seems to be inertia. In an era when Congress can ignore pressing national problems like a budget deficit
approaching $10,000,000,000,000, getting lawmakers off their butts to do something about Daylight Savings Time is unlikely.

However, as the lovely and talented Svetlana points out, proponents of change have managed to extend Daylight Savings Time starting next year.

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