Sunday, March 9, 2014

Daylight Saving Time: A Ridiculously Stupid and Wasteful Idea

I always felt DST or 'Daylight Saving Time' was a dumb notion. But since the U.S. labor sector and its corporate overseers generally demand a rigid work schedule, I could see at least some minimal benefit to family guys who couldn't get home from the office until nearly 6.30 or 7:00 p.m. and wanted some time to go out and play catch with the kids - or just take a walk.  This was generally an understandable and practical application. (At the same time, of course, workers will have to adjust to waking up an hour earlier for work by tomorrow - traced to increased frequency of heart attacks owing to the disruption of the circadian rhythm.)

But then a new meme struck which hailed the benefits of DST as an "energy saver" and my bull pockey  and PR radar instantly went off.  I smelled BS through and through and now, a new book, 'Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of  Daylight Saving Time'  ' (by Michael Downing) confirms my suspicion that there are no real energy savings and in fact more energy waste.

In a segment interview last night on the CBS News, the following hypothesis was offered by the news  anchor:

"The thinking is, with an extra hour of daylight, Americans will be outside more, in their homes left and therefore not using as much energy."

To which Downing responded:

"Well they got right the first half, that Daylight Saving pushes us out of our houses - but when Americans go the ball park or the Mall at the end of the day, we don't walk there.

Here's the dirty secret: Daylight Saving increases gasoline consumption and it's not a small matter. The National Association of Convenience Stores, who sell 80 percent of our gasoline, says that the one month of extra daylight we got recently in 2005 was worth one billion dollars to them".

That is a staggering amount of gasoline and oil consumed! Also a large amount of carbon (almost 0.2gT) added to the atmosphere, even as we are approaching a critical threshold (551gT) beyond which we will surpass the 2 deg. Celsius marker - leading to recurring violent weather, extended heat waves and droughts and new diseases entering temperate latitudes.

The anchor then asked: "Who benefits then?"

The author responded:

"Golfers benefit because of course, golf courses are too large to illuminate. So the golf industry days every extra month of daylight savings is worth about four hundred million dollars in greens fees and equipment sales. Similarly, the barbecue industry profits. Everybody associated with outdoor recreational sports loves daylight savings."

He then added that since DST extends days past Halloween, it means an extra hour for kids to graft for candies, which amounts to another fifty million or so in stores' profits.

So just terrific! DST not only enables much more squandering of energy,  as well as adding to the greenhouse effect by enhanced carbon deposition, but also more obesity for kids- i.e. probably scarfing up an extra two pounds of candy which will make them even fatter.

Another reason I believe the benefits  of DST are over-hyped, is because the nation has basically mutated from a more outdoorsy nation to an indoors one in the past twenty years or so.  Thus, unless an outdoor venue will support a WiFi connection, don't look for most of the Gen X or Y generations to partake. They want the social media connections, and while Twitter can provide a medium for some outdoor connections, it usually ends once the Twittering teen is accidentally clobbered by the first foul ball in his or her direction. (They were too busy twittering so didn't look up to see it coming).

I doubt we can end the unsupported yen for DST but a compromise ought to at least be possible. Indeed, I regard it as even more of a compromise from my end, because lots of gasoline will still be used up though not as much. The compromise is to limit the time applicable to DST between the equinoxes, spring (Mar. 21) and fall(Sept. 22).  So, instead of having commenced DST today at 2 a.m. the powers-that -be would have waited until the nearest Sunday to the Spring equinox - which would have been March 23rd.  Similarly, DST would end at the Sunday nearest the Autumnal equinox. 

It would also stop the nonsensical early morning  burning of energy (because it's still dark outside), for workers and students, once the days get shorter - as they do for temperate climes near mid-October. 

The net effect of these changes would knock off almost two months of DST at a significant energy savings- as well as sparing the planet from more carbon load in the atmosphere.

Don't look for our lawmakers to go along with it, though. They are more invested in putting more moola in the pockets of businesses that can exploit DST - including all the corporations that now see an opening to make their drones work even longer hours!

'Watcha wanna go home at six for! It's still light outside!"

1 comment:

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