It’s time to change those clocks again

March 9, 2012

“Spring forward” means summer is right around the corner doesn’t it?

Daylight Savings Time begins Sunday morning and just nine days later on the 20th the calendar says it really will be the first day of spring.

I just wish they would leave it at Daylight Savings Time all year around, so I wouldn’t have to lose sleep or adjust to going to bed and waking up earlier (or later) twice every year.

That got me internet surfing again. I was wondering why in the world we ever started messing around with the time in the first place.

Hard to believe, but I found out that the idea of daylight saving was first conceived by Benjamin Franklin during his sojourn as an American delegate in Paris in 1784, in an essay, “An Economical Project.”

It was supposed to save time and money by adding more light in the evening hours.

It didn’t fly then, but the idea was advocated seriously by London builder William Willett in 1907 in the pamphlet, “Waste of Daylight” He suggested turning clocks ahead 20 minutes on each of four Sundays in April, and turning them back by the same amount on four Sundays in September. When questioned as to why he didn’t simply get up an hour earlier, Willett replied with typical British humor, “What?”

Britain passed an act on May 17, 1916, and Willett’s scheme of adding 80 minutes, in four separate movements was put in operation on the following Sunday, May 21, 1916. Reportedly there was a storm of opposition, confusion, and prejudice against the whole idea.

I can believe that. It’s hard enough to remember to turn the clocks ahead once and back once a year!

By 1925, a law was enacted by Parliament that Summer Time should begin on the day following the third Saturday in April (or one week earlier if that day was Easter Day). The date for closing of Summer Time was fixed for the day after the first Saturday in October.

Daylight Saving Time has been used in the U.S. and in many European countries since World War I. At that time it was an effort to conserve fuel needed to produce electric power.

During World War II, clocks in Britain were even put two hours ahead during the summer. This became known as Double Summer Time and clocks stayed one hour ahead there during the winter months.

In the United States during World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt instituted year-round Daylight Saving Time, called “War Time,” from February 9, 1942 to September 30, 1945.

By 1966, some 100 million Americans were observing Daylight Saving Time based on their local laws and customs. Congress decided to step in and end the confusion, and to establish one pattern across the country. The Uniform Time Act of 1966 was signed into law in April of that year by President Lyndon Johnson. It created Daylight Saving Time to begin on the last Sunday of April and to end on the last Sunday of October.

While Nixon was president, the beginning and ending dates were changed again. He implemented the Daylight Saving Time Energy Act and on January 6, 1974, clocks were set ahead. On October 5, 1974, Congress amended the Act, and Standard Time returned on October 27, 1974. Daylight Saving Time resumed again on February 23, 1975 and ended on October 26, 1975.

Then the Federal law was amended in 1986 to begin Daylight Saving Time on the first Sunday in April and end it at 2:00 a.m. on the last Sunday of October.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 extended Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. again. Beginning in 2007, Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. begins at 2:00 a.m. on the second Sunday of March and ends at 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday of November.

If we keep extending it, we may just end up with year-round Daylight Savings Time once again.

Which would you like?

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