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DST: Spring Forward, Fall Behind

Daylight Saving Time (DST) is one of the most innovative ideas adopted worldwide to conserve electrical energy. Critics consider this a politician's game plan and a curse to the common people. However, DST also has its benefits.

Although proposed out of jest, Benjamin Franklin, in 1784, put forth this idea when he was in Paris as the American Delegate. You might say that he was forced to comment this way, as most Parisians had the reputation for waking only by noon, lived way into the night and complained of their heavy candle wax and lamp oil expenses.

This is how the Daylight Saving Time (Summer Time) could most concisely be explained. 'Spring forward, Fall back’. The innovative idea of Daylight Saving Time is to trick the mind into making a person wake up an hour earlier and make the most of the day while there was still sunlight. Technically, the time of the clock in spring is advanced by one hour so that one many seem to think the sun is late in rising; shorter mornings, longer evenings. In the Northern hemisphere, DST is from March / April to September / October, while in the Southern hemisphere, it is just the reverse.

DST was proposed way back in 1784. However, most nations that follow it today didn't adopt it until after World War I. Electricity took its toll on so many destroyed nations, fossil fuel was on the decline and the price of fuel too was growing beyond one's means, which meant that severe measures had to be adopted. Following the 1973 U.S. Oil Embargo, Daylight Saving Time was in force and was extended from between six months to eight months. It was observed that during this time, an equivalent in energy of 10,000 barrels of oil was conserved per day.

In the U.S. , when the Standard Time is shifted to the Summer Time / DST, the change in time is made from 1:59 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. There are many reasons for this.

(a) This is the least disturbed part of the day

(b) Least amount of trains and traffic that would be disturbed by the change in time

(c) Least amount of commuters to worry about travel, as most people are asleep at that time

(d) Minimal disturbance to the functioning of bars and restaurants

(e) Prevents the day from switching to yesterday, especially when the switch back to the Standard Time is to be made; and,

(f) Early enough before shift workers are affected (in this case, if they work an hour less in Summer, they work an hour extra in fall to compensate)

The shift back to Standard Time is made from 1:59 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. during its onset at Fall.

Daylight Saving Time works in such a way as to maximize the use of solar power and minimize the use of artificial power. The supporting reasons that made DST catch on, was that, in addition to saving power, it was observed that the amount of crimes lessened during this period, fewer accidents happened during the later hours of the day, and people had more time for recreation and work. Surprisingly, there was a larger 'voter population' during the 2006 elections just before the switch to the Standard Time.

There have been a lot of controversy and debates against Daylight Saving Time. Many States in the U.S. too contribute to this debate. The State of Indiana had a confused time pattern and the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul in Minnesota, separated by the Mississippi River, had a time difference of one hour between them, leading to confused and unorganized business practices and hence the State falling under severe political pressure.

Whatever the reason may be for and against DST, we cannot evade the fact that it has indeed made a difference, for the better, to our economy on the whole. We might be in the Economic Crisis right now, but our children will most definitely benefit from it.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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