I see Daylight Saving is back for its annual recurring discussion. I never liked in living with it (in NSW as a kid, and London as an adult) – I struggle with sleep enough as it is, so anything that disrupts my body clock mucks me about, even though I’d probably notice it less these days since I have a toddler changing my body clock every day!
I’m sure proponents can find other studies extolling the virtues of daylight saving, but for all my anti-friends you might like some of this research:
- It’s bad environmentally in warm locations – while colder states benefit from less heating use, in places like Queensland we’ll all be cranking the a/c at home for an extra hour
- Car accidents go up 6% in the week after clocks go forward
- Heart attacks are 6% more likely after the Spring clock change, though they decline in the 48 hours after clocks go backwards so maybe it’s a wash
- Strokes are 8% more likely after the Spring clock change
- Workplace injuries also increase, mostly in Spring which is when people lose an hour’s sleep
- There’s also the as-yet-unreplicated Australian research that shows a small increase in male suicides immediately after the clocks change
As we’ve seen through the past two years of course, we can’t change everything just to save a few lives. Daylight Saving is worth millions to golf courses, for example. Having Queensland on the same time zone as NSW makes a lot of economic sense, though my preference would be to remove Daylight Saving altogether and just choose one time zone all year round (GMT+10 or GMT+11). As you can see above, most of the downside is linked to changing the clocks every 6 months, not the actual timing of the daylight.
If that argument – if it’s so good, why not make it permanent – causes cognitive dissonance or throws proponents for a loop, that’s a good sign they’re arguing from a parochial view rather than actually weighing up the pros and cons.
Funnily enough, earlier this year the US Senate actually passed legislation doing exactly this – making Daylight Saving Time permanent. It came as a shock to a lot of people (and eventually died quietly) because … it was an administrative error! Or, more specifically, the Senator from Florida (and future Presidential hopeful) Marco Rubio proposed the legislation be passed unanimously without a vote, for the sole purpose of grandstanding. He had a colleague who was supposed to object, forcing a vote, which Rubio would have lost… only his colleague forgot to object, and the whole thing sailed through!
Well, at least it made more people aware that there is an alternative between “no DST” and “changing the clocks every six months”.
And there are definitely benefits for some people having more sunlight of an evening – to which my cynical, anti-Daylight Saving mind likes to point out:
“It’s the same amount of sunlight! If you want an extra hour of light at the end of the day change *your* life, don’t force it on me!”