“Gee Willikers, Martha! Why do we have to change the clocks?”
“Because it’s Daylight Savings Time, Herb. We spring forward and fall backward because it saves energy, or because it promotes shopping, or because it gave farmers more time to work, or because Ben Franklin invented it. I don’t know, Herb! Stop asking questions!”
“Ham Almighty, Martha; it was just a question. No need to snap.”
The exchange above is from a fictional play that has never been written. It’s merely our introduction to today’s topic: Daylight Savings Time.
If you Google DST, as we so generously did a moment ago, you will find the reasons listed above for our clock-adjusting ritual. Many countries in the world have adopted this practice, so there doesn’t appear to be a single, global origin story, as much as James Cameron wants one.
Some people point to a letter that Franklin wrote to a French publication, in which he vociferously took up the cause of candles’ rights by showing how many tallows could be saved by setting clocks forward. But then Franklin was a jokester and you never can trust a jokester.
Other people say that in more agricultural times farmers needed more time to get things done, and since we all need food, we allowed farmers to have their precious hour. But then farmers are notorious for getting up early to milk cows before the dawn, so we’re not so sure about this one either.
Yet even more people say that if you give an American an hour of daylight, he will use it to buy something he doesn’t need, so in the interests of keeping this song-and-dance fiesta we call the economy going, the federal government solemnly agreed that changing all of the clocks was an important American initiative.
And yet a final group of people argue that if we all held hands and let it stay light out longer, we’d use less electricity and reduce our energy consumption by a whopping factor, thereby saving mounds of fossil fuels and improving the environment. Those same people seem unaware that people will have to start their days in the dark, and certainly won’t do so without flicking on the lights, which offsets the evening savings.
Conclusion: no one knows for sure why we do this. However, Utah State University estimates that changing clocks for DST costs the U.S. $1.7 billion every year in wasted time. Add in the amount of time Americans spend blogging and reading about it, and you probably have a cool $2 billion annually. More like Daylight Costing Times, are we right?
In any case, you can find out how to change the clock in your vehicle here, and if you need some help, stop by Leith Honda and we’ll be glad to do it for you. Enjoy the daylight!