There is no sense to the biannual ritual of changing the clock back and forth each year. The rational thing to do is choose one setting and stick with it all year. Clock resetting serves no social good whatever. Not even those who support it are benefitted by it! Based on a delusion, society has chosen to penalize itself for no gain - to anybody; to office workers as well as to farmers. That is because the noble ecological premise on which the practice is based - to save energy use - is relatively unaffected by clock resetting. The environment is not benefitted. The negative effects outweigh the positive. Clock resetting results in a net social loss - not in a social gain. Apparently the whole civilized world has conspired to participate in a monumental imbecility.
The piece which follows explains.
The aborigines of Frago-Mungo Land beat the ground with a Kooji-bird feather for three days each year in early spring. They are celebrating a tradition. They believe that berries appear on bushes only if the earth is tickled. The belief is never questioned so they go on doing it.
Our earth tickling ceremony is the biannual clock reset. Like feather dusting the earth, it doesn't do much harm and it doesn't do much good. It's just an accepted practice.
Can a ritual be less rewarding? It is a joyless exercise for most. It is a painful one for many. It's a burden to people who schedule travel and transportation. It's a nuisance for farmers, agricultural workers, animal care givers and child care givers. Innocent living things cannot be made to change their habits by man's clock resets. It consumes a forest of trees in the paperwork resulting from disorientation on a clock reset Monday.
Considering our own ritual of the biannual clock reset who would dare smirk at those in Frago-Mungo Land beating the ground with a feather. At least the Frago-Mungians enjoy themselves doing it. They celebrate their illusion with feasting, music and dance. We merely suffer ours. If we are to continue this ritual let us at least celebrate it. Clock Reset Mondays should be public holidays. Either that or be eliminated.
On a day in springtime sunset comes at perhaps 6 pm in the afternoon. Wouldn't it be better to have the sun set at seven? It's easily accomplished. As the sun is setting at 6 pm, you advance your watch to read 7 pm. Voila! The sun now sets at 7 pm. That's what the springtime clock reset does. Since a whole nation participates in this action, it's quite effective.
Merely by advancing the clock hands forward by one hour and carrying out life's business as usual according to the new clock readings we make sunset occur an hour later than before. More light at day's end! But, of course, there is less light at days beginning. Sunrise is also an hour later. 'Early birds' remain in the dark an hour longer. The day laborer who rises at 5 am now finds himself facing two hours of morning darkness instead of one.
Afternoon people rejoice and morning people moan.
Darkness is not banished by a clock reset; it is only reshuffled. If there is less at the end of the day there is more at the beginning of day. The total number of dark hours cannot be changed. Our clocks merely set what hour we assign to a physical event - the sun's apogee, when the sun is highest in the sky. By tradition the time of this event is called 12 noon. That convention is arbitrary. We are free to call it 1 pm. Then our clocks will read 7 pm at sunset instead of 6 pm.
In advancing the clock this way we enter what is called Daylight Saving Time. Daylight Saving Time brings the human activity day into better accord with the sunshine day. How to squeeze as much sunlight as possible into the human activity day may be cast as a purely mathematical problem. It has a mathematical solution: Set clocks so that the middle of the human activity day coincides with the middle of the sunshine day. The Daylight Saving Time setting brings us toward that goal.
The arguments in favor of Daylight Saving Time are widely appreciated. They range from 'simple logic' - "the more light the better" - to supposed ecological advantages and even well-being advantages. There are studies purporting to show that less power is consumed under Daylight Saving Time than might have been consumed otherwise. (Of course, there are other studies questioning this finding.) People point to recreational and health advantages created by increased daylight in the afternoon. Few would argue with the manifest advantages of Daylight Saving Time.
Why, then, return to Standard Time in the fall?
It is a nuisance to switch back. After the autumn reset, you leave the workplace in darkness whereas, before the reset, you had some light for the trip home. And worse, because we return to standard time in the fall, we must again suffer a clock reset the next spring.
Basically clock resetting expresses the war between two camps: the I-want-afternoon-daylight people against the I-want-morning-daylight faction. The armistice is a compromise. One group gets their hour in summer the other gets theirs in winter. Unfortunately, the I-don't-like-resetting-clocks people have not been represented in the battle. There is an alternative compromise. Instead of clock resetting twice a year by one full hour, just advance the clock by some intermediate time, say one half hour, forward and leave the clock alone thereafter. Biannual resetting itself bears a social cost not reckoned in the debate.
It is springtime. You are asleep at the 2 am clock resetting time. Sunday is peaceful. A true holiday. In a euphoric state you forget to reset your alarm clock for Monday morning. When the alarm rings you are rising at 8 am thinking it is 7 am. Only later, in driving to work, do you realize that you are an hour late. With a rush of adrenalin you speed up. So do many other drivers for the same reason. Clock resetting causes accidents. It certainly causes needless anxiety.
Paper and resources are wasted in keeping the public appraised of the altered time schedules produced by the clock reset and in printing transportation and delivery schedules. Work hours are wasted in attending to schedule revisions. There are planes, trains, buses and even boats missed due to clock changes.
But the most pernicious evil is this. Clock resets disturb those who are most in need of our compassion: care givers. Consider the precious care givers among us; people who care for the elderly, for the infirm and incapacitated, for newborn babies in maternity wards, breast feeding mothers, farmers. Their lives are disrupted by clock resets. They can't procede with their day-as-usual on the new clock time. Their charges are creatures of natures rhythm and don't accommodate clock changes. Babies, expecting to be fed at 6 am DST (Daylight Saving Time), will be screaming with hunger at 6 am Standard Time. So unlike privileged clock-time workers, care givers must readjust their lives to an altered schedule. The babies must be fed at 5 am until they can be slowly weaned to a new time. And then the disruption happens again at the next clock reset. Fisherman can't live by the revised clocks. When clock-time is changed they must revise their schedules.
Every responsible pet owner knows that clock resets disturb their animals unless the feeding time is changed. Contrary to hearsay farmers do not favor clock resetting. For them it is a nuisance. In fact it is a nuisance for us all. The nuisance is in the interminable resetting not in either Daylight Saving or in Standard Time.
Because we can't have both day's-end-light and day's-start-light a compromise must be reached. Our clock reset ritual amounts to such a compromise. But it is a compromise that has its own set of evils. There is much less harm in keeping either setting - Daylight Saving or Standard - than there is in switching back and forth between them.
Were we to settle on permanent Daylight Saving Time, or even on an intermediate half hour permanent clock shift, the matter would be settled painlessly. We would be relieved of clock resetting. We could devote ourselves to mightier projects.
© m chester 2004 Occidental CA