The proposal for the DST changes

7 04 2005

This made the rounds on IRC this morning, and I’m glad to see other forums have picked it up. The gist is there is a plan in place to extend daylight savings time an extra 2 months. The rational behind this is it would decrease usage of oil by 10,000 barrels a day.
I think there are some horrific fallacies and misleading suggestions in this presentation. First, the only rational for this change is energy savings. There’s no other argument.
Okay, so we save 10,000 barrels. That estimate came from the Transportation Department (no cites have been given for this). It doesn’t take into account other factors, such as increased air conditioning usage in the summer, etc.
Even still, this change would result in a decrease of only 0.05% in daily oil usage. (The US is stated as using 20 million barrels of oil a day.)
This article was posted in Slashdot, and the resulting forum commentary has (oddly enough) brought up some fantastic commentary about the goods and the bads of this proposal. The short answer is, there’s almost nothing good about it.
One great suggestion is, if this change is in place, clocks would change within 3 1/2 months of each other. That’s 15 weeks between an hour change back and an hour change forward. That’s a very tight time schedule.
Why not make the change permanent? Replace the whole process and fix the clocks on Daylight Savings Time and we’ll just call it quits there. The folks in Indiana sure would like that (there are sections of Indiana that have no time-shifting at all. Neither does Arizona.)
Here’s some choice comments from the forums:

From Wikipedia
There is also a question whether the savings in lighting costs (people just home from work don’t turn on the electric lights because there is enough sunlight through the windows) justifies the increase in summertime air conditioning costs (people home from work do turn up the air conditioning during the late-afternoon peak load times, because it’s still warm outside). When air conditioning was not widely available, the change did save energy; however, air conditioning is much more widespread now than it was several decades ago.

SeanDuggan sez:

I can’t remember where I saw the statistic, but I remember reading that the number of accidents involving motor vehicles sharply increases the week after either DST change. Basically, on the day that people “spring forward,” drivers and pedestrians are more exhausted and less likely to be reacting quickly enough. *shrug* And honestly, doesn’t the “10,000 barrels of oil” sound like an exact rehash, right down to the amount, of the original DST proposal?

There’s a great commentary over at the National Review about this as well. A choice quote from it:

“We’re also informed that DST helps conserve energy, apparently because people arriving home when the sun is still up don’t switch on their lights. Didn’t it occur to anybody that maybe they compensate by switching them on earlier in the morning? Moreover, people who arrive home from work an hour earlier during the hot summer months are probably more prone to turning up their air conditioners. According to Downing, the petroleum industry once was “an ardent and generous supporter” of DST because it believed people would hop in their cars and drive for pleasure — and guzzle more gas.
But the very worst thing about DST is that it’s bad for your health. According to Stanley Coren, a sleep expert at the University of British Columbia, the number of traffic accidents and fatal industrial mishaps increase on the Monday after we spring forward. The reason, presumably, is because losing even a single hour of sleep over the weekend makes a lot of people a bit drowsier on what we might usefully call Black Monday. Unfortunately, there’s no compensating effect of a super-safe Monday as we go off DST and “fall back” in the autumn.”

And Supernova87a states it succinctly and to the point:

why doesn’t congress stop tapdancing around the real issue, and instead pass some well-thought out legislation to reduce wasteful energy use, implement a rational gasoline use tax, and other things that would actually address the real problem? Hm?

So what is the reasoning behind this thing? Oh right. It’s politics.

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4 responses

7 04 2005
Cathy

The short answer is, there’s almost nothing good about it.
Except having DST last longer, which I personally would be overjoyed about. The only thing better would be making it permanent. (Why yes, I do need a lot of sunlight, why do you ask? =) )

7 04 2005
sah

I’ve always wanted to stay with DST. As someone who works outside it it definitely to my advantage.
And there’s a large part of the country ( like here) where AC is not part of the equation, as we don’t have it or even need it.

8 04 2005
phi

Why not make the change permanent?
We did that, in the winter of 1973-74. It didn’t work, official protestations notwithstanding.

8 04 2005
phi

I do need a lot of sunlight
So get up earlier. Wait, you say it’d still be dark then? Indeed. How would making everyone else get up earlier too help any?




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