Why Daylight Savings Time Is Pointless

Ugh. You're up an hour early, your body hates you for it, and even a litre of coffee can't get your day on track. Daylight savings sucks. But you know the worst part? It doesn't have to be like this.

Daylight savings isn't as old as you think it is. First suggested by Benjamin Franklyn in 1784, it was at the time shot down by many very sensible people as being pointless. Then, in the First World War, it was introduced — first by the Germans — to save coal during war time.

Somehow in that age of austerity, the concept soon caught on and everyone started doing it. Especially in Australia so more daylight hours could be available for doing outdoors type stuff. Well, not in Queensland, and it hasn't fallen off the face of the planet as a result.

Supporters say daylight savings saves energy, promotes a healthy lifestyle and reduces traffic accidents. So let's bust the myths right now and make it clear that daylight savings needs to go.

Daylight Savings doesn't save energy...

The Germans introduced daylight savings to lower fuel costs. The idea is that, while changing the clocks reduces the use of artificial lighting in the evening but increases use in the morning, the evening reduction outweighs the morning increase.

Great — but that was a century ago. Recent studies point out that, at best, DST might reduce the US electricity usage by 1 per cent during March and April. Other estimates, by the National Bureau of Standards, suggest it has zero effect.

...cut accidents...

Many folks point to the fact that DST reduces the incidence of road traffic accidents as a good reason to keep using the system. In fact, the US data surrounding road safety disagree widely. Some studies show that it makes no difference, others suggest a 0.7 per cent reduction in traffic fatalities during DST. When the data's that limited, it's not enough to base a decision on.

...or make us any healthier...

It's true that DST does provide extra daylight in the evening, and that it may bring with it increased physical activity and reduced incidence of depression. But there is plenty of evidence that changing the clocks by an hour can have a detrimental effect on our health.

Clock shifts disrupt our circadian rhythms. Studies have show that, around the times of the spring clock changes, there are spikes in suicide rates and an increase in the number of recorded heart attacks. In fact, when Kazakhstan ditched DST in 2005, it cited health reasons. Sure, it might make you go for an extra jog or two every year, but it might also help contribute to a heart attack. I know which I'd prefer.

...but is incredibly disruptive.

So, none of the arguments for maintaining DST weigh up. I have one, very large, argument to support scrapping it, though: it loses the US billions of dollars every year. It damages retail, affects the stock market in a negative way, and even disrupts agriculture.

A century ago, we didn't have data to tell us whether DST made a real measurable impact; it was acceptable to run with it because, for all we knew, it was useful. Now, we know better. Day light savings sucks — and we need to get rid of it.

Image: eflon


Comments

    Interesting...but I love daylight savings. Much prefer leaving the office of an evening and there still being daylight left.

      Daylight savings help workers to enjoy some daylight after work. Only employeers and gym junkies that want to get up at the crack of morning seem to hate it. For some reason only Queenslander still think thier chicken wont lay there eggs with Daylight savings. Well to the majority of the country that is a bit more sane; we love it.

        I'm a Queenslander, and I wish we had daylight saving. I hate the sun rising at 4am and setting at 6. In fact, we should get double daylight saving!

          Oh I so agree. 2 hours forward between say November and February incl. and 2 months either side +1.

            Well im in brisbane and with sunrise being at 5:48am on wednesday... im damm sure i will still be in bed...i think the Health and Financial gains outway all else.

          Really? Where I am the sun rises around 6.

          I'm somewhat surprised that in the Australian comments nobody seems to realise that WA and the NT also have no DST. It's not just QLD...

            Thank you! WA seems to be left off a lot... but we want daylight savings too, when we tested it, it was great but of course being as scared of change as we seem to be, we killed the idea

    You are obviously not working much of a day if you get to see daylight in the morning. I'm up at 0500 and work a long day. I never see the light unless I take a few minutes at lunch time to sneak outside for an upleasant freezing blast from -40 unforgiving temperatures. DST? You can take it stake it where the sun don't shine . . . ooooo, sorry for the pun!

    Problem is in Tassie, if we didn't have daylight savings, first light would be before 4:00am. That's a little too early to start waking up.

      DST is a lie to make people do things an hour earlier in the summertime. What time do you get up? 6am? During summer you actually get up at 5am, even if the clock says 6.

      I'm a Queenslander and I like NOT having it: in the summer I (used to) go for a swim in the ocean before work - back when I worked in Surfers Paradise. Mornings are the perfect time for a summer surf swim.

      The time is just a number, what we associate with a particular number is what everyone is talking about here.

    I remember when I was in northern Europe and the Sun didn't set till 11pm. What wonderful long days they were. No staying at home watching TV but going out and visiting people. I vote for keeping, even extending, daylight saving irrespective of the fact that you may have found some studies to the contrary.

    Having lived in QLD and VIC, I can say that the no DST in QLD is [email protected]!!! The sun comes up at 4:30am and then it's dark by 6:30. I want to be awake when the sun is up and asleep when it's dark! Plain and simple. All the above article's arguments do not and will never be able to compete against that.

    I want to go for a walk or play outdoors after work but NOOO, Mr "I'm using arguments based solely on technology and nothing physical so I can sit on my ar$e all day" is too inconvenienced by the change.

    Go outside after work and enjoy the world.

      So in Brisbane it will now be dark at 7:30 with DST, still a long way off the 9 - 9:30 in Melbourne.

      Do as I do organise your day one hour different, I get up early every morning and work each day between 7:30 to 4:00. Guess what I have buckets of summer afternoon sun to enjoy. Also my house is not a dark hole at 5 am when I get my sorry arse out of bed.

    Why does the link under "it loses the US billions of dollars every year" point to an article on US television ratings? If that is mean to justify the economic impact of DST then I think the author is on very thin ice.

    Obviously written by a Queebslander

      You mean a north Queenslander... If they had a referendum tomorrow Qld would get DST in now as we have more people in SEQLD now than when we lost the referendum back in the early 90's

        Sorry Roland, but you're wrong. The reason they won't hold a referendum is because they know it would fail. The result of a referendum is not about the number of actual people who support it and the fact that the majority of them are in SEQ. A referendum result would be determined by the number of electorates that vote for it. The majority of electorates would still vote against it.

    The biggest argument seems to be that it disrupts circadian rhythm...
    Maybe in the first week (more like first days) that's true... after then your body clock adjusts and all is good.. plus when the clocks change back, you get that glorious extra hour's sleep-in!
    DST is logical and brilliant, the only people who should be complaining are parents who can't get their kids in bed "cause it's still light outside".

    For all those that say the sun is up at 4:30, how long has it been since you were up then because it sure wasn't up even at 5:00 this morning and was barely light at 5:30.

    If you want more daylight go to work earlier and come home earlier.

      We're talking about in summer Glen, if you didn't realise we were in Autumn now. Also we don't have the luxury of choosing own work hours. Funny that there is always at least one that comes out of the woodwork... Change your work hours bla bla bla...

        You do have the luxury of choosing your own work hours... you can choose your job :)

    If only there was a way to use the extra daylight in mornings without dst; it's a pity you can't go out for a bike ride and meet friends at a cafe for breakfast, or jog or go to the gym and then have a shower and go to work. Nope, the only time you can do that is after work.

      Gee, better make brand new friends and ditch all the old ones who can't function in the morning STAT!

    DST FTW. One of the things I love about not living in QLD any more.

    Daylight Savings also works for me. I wake up when the light hits the room and I rather head for work earlier and come back to more day in the afternoon, than stay at home awake for another hour.

    DLS is absolutely rediculous. For those who want it go back down south and stop pushing your dumb-ass southern ideas on us - we don't want it.

    Get up and use the sun before work or start work earlier. Simple.

      If you'd read the article, you'd understand it is a northern idea first suggested by Benjamin Franklin (famous American dude) and first implemented by the Germans (famous country in Europe).

    Daylight savings totally rocks.... love it, and love getting home with hours of daylight left , instead of coming home in the dark! It would be good to have a Australian article... not a us one!

    Here's an idea - how about we just shift the timezone +1 hour for the whole year. Then you get the marginal at best benefits of DST and you don't mess with your circadian rhythms.

    Or even better, everyone should just switch to using UTC around the world and live your life according to daylight time where you live. I mean, the whole concept of clock-time is arbitrary. At least with this idea, 06:00 in the US is the same time as 06:00 in AU - and in a world where geographic dispersity is less of a barrier to communication, being able to simply understand what time it is anywhere in the world has its advantages.

    Of course, this would mean that those on the east coast of AU would work (in general) 23:00 to 07:00 days - but again, that's just an arbitrary label to daylight times in this locale.

      That is idealist, but it isn't feasible nor fair due to our intimate familiarity with time and how it's deeply ingrained into our psyche - 8am is Morning for example and that's how we were taught. Thus, psychologically there are issues here. Kind of like that research that suggests that people higher up the alphabet (surname) do slightly better on average than those further down. The "Self" is a bizarre thing.

      "I mean, the whole concept of clock time is arbitrary."

      Last time i checked the time actually represents the position of the sun. It certainly is not arbitrary. If you are on a longitude that is a multiple of 15 degrees the sun is exactly overhead at noon. As the earth spins 15 degrees per hour your local variance could mean solar noon at your place can be between 11:30 and 12:30 depending on your offset from the nearest meridian that is divisble by 15 degrees.

    But the cows... those poor bloody cows...!! :)

    DST is fantastic.
    Id vote for 2hrs in summer and 1hr every other time.

    Daylight savings is fantastic. If I'm forced to lose the majority of my Summer inside an awful office, I damn well want some sunlight to enjoy my day when I finish work.

    Also wow, just wow.

    Only an American could cite a Variety article complaining TV viewing went down as a reason we need to ditch daylight savings.

    Why should I care about the TV networks if I'm able to have a more enjoyable life doing things outside after being locked in an office building all day? If the networks actually managed to have daylight savings in the US scrapped to increase ratings that would be a sad day for humanity.

    and no-one mentioned the curtains! ;>)

    don't miss DST, but prob wouldn't mind it. I'm up first light every day playing a round of golf, so would be good to fit in a round after work as well though.

    Of course TV ratings dip during DST, everyone is outside enjoying the glorious sunshine. There is nothing better than being able to head down to the beach for a good body-bash after work. I think we should leave our clocks where they are now and never change them again. Who's with me?

    I too like having some natural light when I leave work, otherwise I never get to see daylight during the winter.

    To avoid the shock of the 1 hour shift, we should program our time servers to shift the time slowly over the year using a sine based offset. (I hesitate to suggest that sunset should occur at a fixed time each day, but maybe that's another alternative). Might be tough on people who still rely on old fashioned watches without internet syncrhronisation, but get with the times!!

    I moved from the US to Queensland 3 yrs ago and I love not having daylight savings. I have always had trouble adjusting my body clock and whenever daylight savings came around it would throw me off. I still enjoy the sun during summer as well. A lot of people are complaining about not getting to enjoy the sun after work. I would rather have the sun in the morning before work. Its much cooler and much nicer to enjoy the outdoors.

    I remember reading/hearing somewhere that Tasmania was the first state to introduce daylight savings in Australia, and having lived here for close to 2 years now, I can certainly see why we have it.

    With daylight savings in force; at the summer soltace we see daylight at around ~5.30am, with last light at about ~10pm.

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