It’s that time of year… Daylight Savings Time (DST) officially ends at 2 a.m. Sunday, November 6th, which means you’ll want to turn your clocks back before you go to bed Saturday night. The good news for the early risers is that sunrise will be about an hour earlier and there will be more light in the mornings, but unfortunately, this also means sunset will be happening a lot earlier.
Each year when Daylight Savings Time comes around people often asks where in the world the concept came from. Interestingly, the idea was first conceived by Benjamin Franklin during his tenure as an American delegate in Paris. Supposedly Franklin documented the idea in 1784 in an essay entitled “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light”. In the essay, he suggested, although jokingly, that Parisians could economize candle usage by getting people out of bed earlier in the morning, making use of the natural morning light instead. The Germans were the first to officially adopt the light-extending system in 1915 as a fuel-saving measure during World War I. The British switched one year later, and the U.S. followed in 1918 when Congress passed the Standard Time Act, which established our time zones. However, this experiment lasted only until 1920, when the law was repealed due to opposition from dairy farmers. During World War II, Daylight Savings Time was once again imposed — this time year-round — to save fuel and vital energy. Since then, Daylight Savings Time has been used. (Source: timeanddate.com; webexhibits)
Births and Birthdays: While twins born at 11:55 p.m. and 12:05 a.m. may have different birthdays, Daylight Saving Time can change birth order — on paper, anyway. During the time change in the fall, one baby could be born at 1:55 a.m. and the sibling born ten minutes later, at 1:05 a.m. In the spring, there is a gap when no babies are born at all: from 2:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. In November 2007, Laura Cirioli of North Carolina gave birth to Peter at 1:32 a.m. and, 34 minutes later, to Allison. However, because Daylight Saving Time reverted to Standard Time at 2:00 a.m., Allison was born at 1:06 a.m.
Not Universal: Not everyone changes the clock on the same date, which can make for confusing calls to friends and family in other countries. For example, Brazil already changed its clocks on the third Saturday in October. Israel usually changes the clock on the last Sunday in October (the 25th this year). That means that for a few days this month, Tel Aviv will only be six hours ahead of New York City instead of seven. “There is no international authority governing timekeeping,” Michael Downing, the author of Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving, told From The Grapevine. “There is no logic to the confusion.”
Arizona and Hawaii Don’t Participate: During the brief periods in history that Arizona observed DST, residents were not thrilled with high temperatures lasting until bedtime. If you wanted to be outdoors, the heat made it hard to function and do much of anything. Arizona’s unique climate negated the benefits of DST, which is why the state hasn’t adjusted its clocks for the past several decades. Hawaii doesn’t need more sunlight as they sit near the equator and the sunrise and sunset are consistent.
Talk About Some Craziness: Widespread confusion was created during the 1950s and 1960s when each U.S. locality could start and end Daylight Saving Time as it desired. One year, 23 different pairs of DST start and end dates were used in Iowa alone. For exactly five weeks each year, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia were not on the same time as Washington D.C., Cleveland, or Baltimore–but Chicago was. And, on one Ohio to West Virginia bus route, passengers had to change their watches seven times in 35 miles! The situation led to millions of dollars in costs to several industries, especially those involving transportation and communications. Extra railroad timetables alone cost the today’s equivalent of over $12 million per year.
Oil Conservation: Following the 1973 oil embargo, the U.S. Congress extended Daylight Saving Time to 8 months, rather than the normal six months. During that time, the U.S. Department of Transportation found that observing Daylight Saving Time in March and April saved the equivalent in energy of 10,000 barrels of oil each day – a total of 600,000 barrels in each of those two years. Likewise, in 1986, Daylight Saving Time moved from the last Sunday in April to the first Sunday in April. No change was made to the ending date of the last Sunday in October. Adding the entire month of April to Daylight Saving Time is estimated to save the U.S. about 300,000 barrels of oil each year. Beginning in 2007, Daylight Saving Time commenced on the second Sunday in March and ended on the first Sunday in November, thereby saving even more oil.
Bombing Win for the Good Guys: In September 1999, the West Bank was on Daylight Savings Time while Israel had just switched back to standard time. West Bank terrorists prepared time bombs and smuggled them to their Israeli counterparts, who misunderstood the time on the bombs. As the bombs were being planted, they exploded — one hour too early — killing three terrorists instead of the intended victims — two busloads of people!