Its that time of year again. The nights are getting cooler, the leaves have turned yellow and orange, and the Thanksgiving season is almost here.
Instead of being left to enjoy the fall season, however, we are all faced with a silly, twice-yearly ritual called Daylight Savings Time (DST) that requires us to tinker with our clocks.
On Sunday, Nov. 3, at 2 a.m., the nation will stand still while we turn our timepieces back one full hour. Here is how we look at this mad custom: Say you have a nice warm blanket. To make it even warmer, you decide to cut a portion of the blanket off one end ... and sew it on to the other end. In a nutshell, that sums up the efficacy of Daylight Savings Time.
DST was conceived as a way of making better use of the daylight in the evenings by setting the clocks forward one hour during the longer days of summer, and setting them back again in the fall. But going to and from DST has become a pointless relic of a distant era. What does it accomplish? In the spring, this practice takes an hour of light away in the morning and moves it to the evening. In the fall, it does the opposite. We are not saving anything: Not time, not energy, not daylight.
Further, most of us are physically impacted by this change. Our bodies are used to getting up at a certain time, but with this rule, twice a year, our internal clocks get thrown off. Many of us oversleep or wake up too early, and as a result we start the day a little cranky and off balance. Our bodies are in a certain rhythm, and this rite messes with it.
There is also the nuisance of having to set clocks to a different time twice a year and most of us have multiple clocks. Not just a clock at home in your living room, but a clock built into your stove, your car, your television. Then there is your watch, the timepiece in your computer (although some of these now change automatically) and your office clock ... and maybe you forget to change one of them and youre late (or early) for a meeting as a result. Is this really necessary?
According to the history books, the modern origins of Daylight Savings Time came about in the early 1900s. An Englishman named William Willett allegedly noticed and took exception to the fact that many of his fellow London residents were asleep in the early morning hours rather than doing what he arrogantly thought they should be doing: enjoying the daylight. Even more absurd, Willett was said to be an avid golfer who was upset because he often had to cut his golf games short because it was getting dark. So he pushed for the time change, although he reportedly hoped for a two-hour change!
Wow. All this annoyance and disruption of sleep patterns for a bit more time on the greens?
We believe this archaic societal structure should be abolished. But there is a huge problem weve baked into the cake: Weve made it exceptionally complicated to change the system. If Oregon does away with DST, realistically, we would need to convince Washington and California to change as well. Otherwise, for example, it would be 1 p.m. in Oregon but an hour different (one way or the other, depending on the season) in our neighbors to the north and south. That would be chaotic and messy, especially for businesses and travelers. Just ask the folks in Arizona, the lone DST holdout since Indiana caved in to the pressure in 2005.
Since the three West Coast states are all in the same time zone, all would need to make the leap together.
If our area legislators (state Sen. Bruce Starr, state Reps. Ben Unger and Joe Gallegos take note) want to be heroes, heres a way to improve the lives of your constituents: Introduce a bill to do away with the DST craziness and contact like-minded folks in Sacramento and Olympia to see if we can get a political groundswell to literally save the day.
Let the hours of daylight fluctuate with the turning of the Earth throughout the year not by playing with our clocks. Please.