Claudine Zap of Yahoo! news has this to say about our yearly tradition, in which we set our clocks forward an hour in order to delude ourselves into thinking that we’re saving something:
“The hope is that we save energy — since there’s less of a need to switch on the lights if natural light will do. Studies have shown the electricity conserved on the new schedule is actually pretty nominal. But look on the bright side. Those longer light-filled days are sure nice.”
I wish I could share Claudine’s silver lining. But to me, DDT is just another example of how otherwise intelligent people can be convinced of a patently absurd idea. What I mean is that I’ve talked to several people who, despite their otherwise bright and thoughtful minds, take ‘daylight savings time’ at face value. As in, “If I turn my clock back, I magically turn an hour of night into an hour of day.” That’s the power of tradition and misleading names working in tandem with faulty philosophy, baby!
Claudine wrote something else that caught my eye:
“…sleep disorder specialists say you should prepare yourself: You actually can lose sleep over the time change.”
Wait just a minute! I can lose sleep? No, Claudine and specialists, I will lose sleep. An hour of it. If I fall asleep when I normally would, I’ll get one less hour of sleep than I normally do. If I fall asleep an hour early, I’ll get one less hour of sleep than I should. And I won’t get it back until November 6th. That’s eight months!
Claudine does make one good point though — that the energy we save by DDT is nominal. You don’t need studies or statistics to divine this fact; just consider the average American’s relationship with light switches. We leave half the house lights on 16 hours a day, just so we don’t have to walk through a romantically lit living room; we leave the other half of our lights on as nightlights on; we keep our computers on 16 hours a day just so we don’t have to wait the half minute for them to turn on; our children flip lights on and off to play pranks. And in a public building, or a business? Forget it! If some good sumaritan flips a switch to save a volt of energy, someone else uses that volt when they switch the switch five minutes later. (Fun fact: just flipping a switch uses extra energy, especially with flourescent lights.) The only reason anything stays off for any length of time is when we’re too lazy to replace a lightbulb.
Whatever money we do save by losing an hour of sleep for eight months is lost again on the morning of DDT when traffic accidents increase. Again, you don’t need to be a scientist to understand this; when you’re driving to church or the grocery tomorrow morning, tired and iritable because you lost an hour of sleep, think about it. Tired drivers cause accidents, iritable drivers cause accidents; tired and iritable drivers cause twice as many accidents.
So, long story short: you want to lose an hour of sleep? Set your own damn alarm early, but don’t wake me up. I’ll vote for any politician who says the same.