Okay, this will be my last bloviation on Daylight Saving Time.
Well, maybe not, depending on what Congress decides to do about H.R. 69.
H.R. 69 is the bill introduced in the House of Representatives on January 4th last, a bill flowing from the U.S. Senate and labeled “A BILL To make daylight savings [sic] time permanent, and for other purposes.”
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE. This Act may be titled as the “Sunshine Protection Act of 2021”. (quotation marks in original).
It may be telling that this bill refers to daylight savings time, which has never been considered the correct phrasing, and the word savings is used twice in the bill. The bill that it proposes to repeal, the Uniform Time Act of 1966 (15 U.S.C.260a) never refers to daylight savings time, although it does make note in at least two instances of daylight saving time.
A recent article in Science Alert extolling the alleged virtues of Daylight Saving Time posited that lives would be saved by year-round DST because evening darkness is deadlier than morning darkness, that crime would decrease because of lengthened daylight hours (apparently crooks are as stupid as everyone else in believing that moving the clock hands changes the way the length of daylight and darkness are made), that energy would be saved (though some studies have shown that energy savings are minuscule), that avoiding clock switches improves sleep (true, but that’s unrelated to hours of daylight), and that “recreation and commerce flourish in the sun” (probably also true, but it beggars the real question).
But despite all these misconceptions about the virtues of permanent DST – and the apparent inability of some members of Congress to correctly label their bills – the real problem with continually referring to daylight saving time (or daylight savings time) is that it reveals a complete lack of understanding about how the totally artificial method of describing time has absolutely nothing to do with the ways in which mankind actually relates to time.
It makes not a birdwhistle of difference whether we (here in Kentucky, for purposes of conversation) must be at work at eight o’clock a.m. or eight o’clock p.m. (and it would be far, far more logical if everyone would begin using the twenty-four-hour method of designating time than this archaic ante meridiem and post meridiem) simply because anyone can designate a time on the clock to mean anything.
For instance, if I normally get up at 0630 (now’s as good a time as any to learn the 24-hour system) in order to get to work at 0800, and I set my clock so that it shows 1100, it doesn’t matter if I have already established the hour time for my day. I will still make it to work an hour and a half later and my boss won’t even have to know that my watch isn’t showing the same time as his. And the hours of daylight will be the same as they were the day before when my watch was set the same as everyone else’s.
But the real, real problem with permanent DST is that it completely, totally, irrevocably, irretrievably (there are adverbs ad infinitum that could be placed here) ignores the global implications of timekeeping.
It has long been an accepted accommodation that every 15 degrees of longitude represent about 1,000 miles (at the equator), 1/24th of the earth’s circumference, and one hour. Since the establishment of Greenwich as the Prime Meridien, it has generally been accepted that 7−1÷2 degrees on either side of that longitude would encompass the same hour, so if it is 0000 hours at Greenwich and 7−1÷2 degrees west, each additional 15-degree time zone west would be one hour earlier.
The current Eastern time zone should begin at longitude 67.5 degrees west and run to 82.5 degrees west. Oddly, most of Kentucky has been traditionally included in the Eastern Time Zone, but the 82.5‑degree line runs through Martin and Pike County so, logically, all of Kentucky west of Pikeville should be in the Central Time Zone which includes territory all the way to just west of Topeka, Kansas. Winchester lies in longitude 84°10’ (plus and minus).
One hour time zones aren’t perfect, but there is a four-minute difference in time for each degree of longitude and it would be folly to try to establish 360 time zones, each four minutes apart, and expect that modern civilization would function effectively thusly because our modes of travel and means of communication are too swift to deal with such minuscule time differences.
Here’s the crux of the matter. We must quit thinking in terms of DST and “standard” time, and instead think about setting our time zones to more closely approximate the rotation of the earth as it relates to hours of daylight and darkness, and how the seasons affect those hours.
In the long run, it would be so much more logical and practical if the whole world operated on “Zulu” time, which airlines already do and which simply designates Greenwich Mean Time.
In Kentucky — if placed in its proper time zone — someone who went to work at the old time of 0800 would be going to work at 1400 Zulu.