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Why we spring forward and fall back

By Walter Geiger As I sipped coffee and slowly brought my brain to life on the second morning of the Daylight Saving Time period, I began pondering the whole notion of messing with our clocks – both inner and outer. Maybe I am just older and grumpier but I hate the time change. I hear from a lot of other people who hate it, too. I worry about my kids and everyone else’s getting off to school in the pitch dark and, quite frankly, I’m not real keen on the sun not setting until 9 p.m. during the summer months. It just seems unnatural. Daylight Saving Time (DST) had its origins during World War I. The U.S. government instituted it to save energy for war production by taking advantage of the extended daylight periods from April to October. During World War II, the feds again instituted DST. Between the two wars and after WW II, states and communities chose whether or not to observe the time change. Can you imagine what that would be like today? Our cell phones would flame out trying to keep up with all the changes. Business communications would also be crippled and airline schedules would be chaos. So, in 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act which standardized the hours and period length of DST. Then, in 2005, the Energy Policy Act was signed into law and, two years later, DST was extended by four weeks. It now runs from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November. Congress was misled on the extension. Backers said America would save 10,000 barrels of oil per day but no real energy savings have been recorded. Think about your domicile. When you get home in the afternoon do you count on sunlight to light your kitchen or den? No. You have the lights and the big screen TV on. There are four to six electrical outlets on each wall and most all have something plugged into them. My kids are constantly charging cell phone, iPods, iPads and laptops and cannot leave for school without plugging in hair dryers and straighteners and makeup mirrors. We depend on electricity and, when for one reason or another it fails, we lose patience quickly. So, those of us who work or get kids off to school get up in the dark for a while as part of a failed energy saving effort. Think about that the next time you splash cold water on your face to wake up or listen to the roar of your neighbor’s leaf blower at 9 p.m. on a summer evening. There is another option. You can move. Arizona does not observe DST except on some Indian reservations. It is also not in place in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa. What do they know that we don’t? Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette.

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