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The Senate is right: Time to ditch the twice-a-year time switcheroo
Dennis Wyatt new mug
Dennis Wyatt

It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.

And it’s about time Congress realizes it.

Daylight Savings Time is all about fooling Mother Nature instead of industrial societies making schedule adjustments as the days shorten.

We can force timepieces 100 percent into submission and force people to change at the whim of an act of Congress but nature remains steadfast.

Blooms in setting, opening and closing do not call on a manmade clock controlled by an act of Congress for guidance.

Cows this past Sunday didn’t wait an hour later to be milked. And if they had been forced to, their milk production would have dipped.

In that respect, man is no different than cows. Disrupting patterns by losing an hour in the spring and then having it restored in the fall has physiological impacts as various studies have shown. To what degrees is the debate.

For some people it is negligible. For some it’s just a rough spot. For others it lingers for days. And — if some studies are to be believed — it can be deadly or at least seriously life threatening.

Sleep Medicine in 2015 published research that compared the rate of strokes around Daylight Savings Time to the rate 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after the time change.

Strokes jumped 8 percent after the forced loss of an hour. The consequences for those with cancer was higher as the stroke rate increased 25 percent. They found the rate was 8% higher the first 2 days after the shift. Those over 65 were found to have as 20 percent higher chance of suffering a stroke.

The same trend was reflected in heart attack research and studies of accident rates. The traffic rate surge for several days was particularly telling given researchers pointed out interruptions to the circadian rhythm have a tendency to dilute focus and impair judgment.

Despite some waxing eloquently about an extra hour of sunshine to pursue outdoor activities in the summer as a justification for switching back and forth between Daylight Savings Time and Standard Time, fiddling with the clock was never about health.

It’s been justified either as a way to save energy and to keep people productive as in working on jobs.

As early as 1875 Ben Franklin penned a satirical letter suggesting turning the clock ahead an hour would reduce the need for candles.

During World War I when it finally caught on it was seen as a way to reduce energy consumption to conserve oil as much as possible for the military.

It might have made sense when the world wasn’t running 24/7 and people didn’t burn the proverbial midnight oil. However, in an age where people start having fun when the sun goes down instead of sleeping or spend the wee hours of the morning trading in bitcoins that require the daily energy consumption of Las Vegas to create it makes as much sense as whistling into a Category 4 hurricane.

The legislation the Senate passed by unanimous consent on Tuesday would make Daylight Savings Time permanent. And if the House concurs and President Biden signs it into law clocks would be left alone.

It is how nations such as Iceland, Belarus, Turkey, Argentina, Morocco, and places like Singapore now operate.

If you recall, what the U.S. Senate now supports is what California voters wanted to do when 59 percent of us approved Proposition 7 in 2018. Nothing happened because states — without the blessing or authority of Congress — can’t switch to year-round Daylight Savings Time. No one from the California Congressional delegation stepped up to introduce such a measure given the fact it likely would have run into strong headwinds given California’s economic heavyweight status would have posed problems for other states not on the same clock.

The only reason Hawaii and Alaska don’t switch their clocks is because they are on Standard Time yar round. Federal law allows states that option but not year-round Daylight Savings Time.

The Senate’s legation allows Hawaii and Arizona to stay year-round in Standard Time if they so wish.

The action in the Senate came two days after California Assemblyman Steven Choi introduced another measure for the statewide ballot. This one would give the California Legislature the ability to switch to year-round Standard Time which is legal to do if the federal government doesn’t grant the right for year-round Daylight Savings Time.

Choi’s effort may end up being superfluous.

Congress imposing a uniform time on the nation minus the twice a year switcheroo while carving out exceptions for states already in year-round Standard Time would end the debate.

The time change may have made sense back when no one worked on the Sabbath, work weeks were Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and almost everyone hit the hay when the sun went down.

But in today’s world it is a nuisance that doesn’t change the habits of few if any of us except when it comes to disrupting sleep patterns that change naturally on a gradual basis over the course of the year as we rotate around the sun instead of being forced all at once by governmental dictate.