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Times are a-changing

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I orgininally posted this text on an old blog of mine on 13 October 2019. For this blog I updated it and erased some typos.

I used to think that autumn was my favourite time of the year. I came to the realisation that that is actually not true. However, I still think the light is beautiful in autumn, especially on the changing leaves, the days are still warm, and yet it is time to put out the cozy (in my case often handknit) scarves and pullovers that have been sleeping in the closet all summer.
Another great thing that happens: We're going to return to normal time and dial our clocks back by one hour. In Germany that always happens on the last Sunday in October, which this year is today, the 29th.

It's not hard for anyone reading the intro to guess that I am not a fan of daylight savings time (DST). From talking to people I know, and reading articles in the newspapers every year, I seem to be pretty much alone with this. And I absolutely do not understand why.

Why do we have daylight savings time?

The history of daylight savings time is long and complex. Originally proposed in 1784 by Benjamin Franklin in a satirical (!) letter, implemented by a single city (Port Arthur in Canada) in 1908, it would be first established on a national level by the German Empire in 1916 in order to save energy during the war. Other countries followed. After the war some countries went back to normal time, some didn't. The same happened during and after World War 2. Some countries re-established DST decades after the war during the oil crisis in the 1970s. Germany followed in 1980 to align with neighbour states, who were observing DST again, and to make sure that the then still separated country was not further separated by time differences. And then no-one thought about dis-establishing it again.

Arguments in favour of DST always seem to point out the saving of energy. Studies seem to not really support that though, since effects seem small and vary depending on the type of energy (electricity, fuel, etc.) and location. There are of course many arguments for and against DST. I will not go into them all, but instead will highlight a couple that I support.

The problems I have with daylight savings time

As a kid I hated nothing more than having to go to bed when it was still light outside. It is light outside longer in summer anyway, but due to DST it's light even longer. I wasn't very tired when I had to go to bed, which made falling asleep more difficult than it was anyway.
It's the same still today. I tend to get tired when it's getting dark outside. I also naturally wake with dawn. The problem with DST is that it's not only getting dark later, but that I still have to get up at the same time in the morning.
Due to DST, sunrise in summer is one hour later, which makes it less light in the morning as it would be without DST. Light plays a big role for my waking up and getting out of bed. Getting up in the dark is hard. How about you?

Following that thought, don't you love it when in spring you recognize that the sun is rising earlier again? The promise of summer, longer days, more sunlight... - And then bang! the clocks are turned one hour forward and it's dark in the morning once more. Who needs this? It's frustrating.

Thirdly, there are so many different regulations and laws around DST around the world. Different countries have different rules and days where and when they turn the clocks. Some countries don't even observe DST in all their parts, but only in some. It's a mess. (Looking at the map in the upper right hand corner though is making me hopeful: There are so many countries who once observed DST, but aren't anymore. It shows that it is doable.)

No Changes in the EU

Back in 2019, when I first wrote this blog post, a change was close. So close. We couldn't be farther from it today.

In 2019, the EU parliament decided to end the changing of the clocks in 2021. Though what seemed to be a great thing at first glance could have proven to be a disaster. While the changing between normal time and DST was about to cease to exist, the single EU countries could have all decided for themselves if they wanted to continue to only use normal time, or DST. In the end, it didn't come to any of that, because the EU Council could not come to an agreement and the whole thing was postponed. Every now and then, someone comes forth with an initiative to get the topic back into discussions (see last link), but nothing ever happens.

So for the forseeable future I'll rejoice on the last Sunday in October, when we finally go back to normal time, and be all grumbly on the last Sunday in March, when DST gets forced upon me once again.

Should the topic be discussed in EU Parliament and Council again, there's one thing I hope for, besides them actually deciding to stop the time change: That they are clever enough to ditch DST, and not have us all suffer under it all year around. There are several countries who have gone that route, and went back to normal time after only a few short years. Because imagine what it means if DST would also be effective in winter: It would be dark out for a whole hour longer in the morning. This sounds way worse than "loosing" an hour of light in summer evenings, when it's light out long enough anyway.


What do you think about daylight savings time? Do you like it? Do you wish to get rid of it? Do you like to switch times twice a year? Or do you wish there was only one time all year around? Leave a comment in the Fediverse