Some Facts About Daylight-Saving Time (DST)


Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj


DST Countries Map
Daylight Saving Time Countries as of October 2011.

Daylight Saving Time often known as “Summer Time”, “DST” or “Daylight Savings Time” helps to make better use of daylight in the evenings during certain periods of the year.

The clock moves ahead losing one hour in the spring when DST starts, and it falls back one hour gaining an hour when DST ends in the Fall. The transition from Standard Time (ST) to Daylight Saving Time (DST) has the effect of moving one hour of daylight from morning to the evening and the transition from DST to ST effectively moves one hour of daylight from the evening to the morning.

This year on Sunday, March 11 at 2 am, the Eastern Time Zone officially switched from standard time to DST, giving us a later sunrise and sunset. After being in effect for 238 days, or about 65% of the year DST ended today at 2 am.

From yesterday, the time difference between New Delhi, India and Washington DC, USA is -19:30 hours instead of -9:30 hours.

Here are some facts about Daylight Saving Time:

In his article “Daylight saving in ancient Rome,” that appeared in The Classical Journal 13 (6): 450–451, B.L. Ullman (1918-03) wrote about the common practice of saving daylight in the ancient world.

Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin

In 1784, Benjamin Franklin the American inventor, statesman, and publisher resurrected this idea. During his time as an American envoy to France, on April 26, 1784 Journal de Paris published in its “Économie” section an anonymous light-hearted satire titled “Aux auteurs du Journal” in French translated from the English original. In this satire, Franklin suggested that Parisians could economize on candles by rising earlier than they used to and use morning sunlight. He also proposed taxing shutters, rationing candles, waking the public by ringing church bells, and firing cannons at sunrise.

Franklin wrote under the pseudonyms of “Poor Richard” and “Richard Saunders”. He achieved success publishing a yearly almanac named “Poor Richard’s Almanack“. Being the best-selling pamphlet published in the American colonies, yearly print runs of the almanac reached 10,000. He published this almanac continually from 1732 to 1758. In this almanac, Franklin’s facetiously suggested that people should get up earlier in the summer to take advantage of more sunlight. The axiom “Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” has been attributed to him.

George Vernon Hudson
George Vernon Hudson

In 1895, George Vernon Hudson, a New Zealand entomologist, mooted the idea of modern daylight saving time (DST).

William Willett by Elliott & Fry
William Willett

On an early summer morning in 1907, William Willett, an Englishman, after riding his horse in Petts Wood, near his home noticed many blinds still down, and the idea for daylight saving time occurred to him.

William Willet published a pamphlet “The Waste of Daylight” using his own financial resources. He proposed that the clocks should be advanced by 80 minutes in four incremental steps during April and reversed the same way during September. The evenings would then remain light for longer increasing daylight recreation time, and this could save ₤2.5 million in lighting costs. He suggested that the clocks should be advanced by 20 minutes at a time, at 2 am on successive Sundays in April, and be retarded by the same amount on Sundays in September.

In 1908, the fate of Willett’s proposal involved several political issues in Britain. His idea captivated many persons in high office, including Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour, David Lloyd George, James Ramsay MacDonald, King Edward VII (who used half-hour DST at Sandringham), budding politician Winston Spencer Churchill, the managing director of Harrods, and the manager of the National Bank.

Even so, the opposition to Willett’s proposal was  stronger. It included Prime Minister Herbert Henry Asquith, Sir William Christie (the Astronomer Royal), Sir George Howard Darwin, Sir William Napier Shaw (director of the Meteorological Office), many agricultural organizations, and theater owners.

In 1909, after many hearings by a Parliamentary select committee on Willett’s proposal nothing came out of it.

In the same year, Andrew Peters introduced a DST bill to the US House of Representatives. However, the skeptical US politicians killed it in committee.

Every year from 1911 through 1914, Willett’s allies introduced similar bills to the British Parliament, to no avail.

The outbreak of the First World War made the issue of daylight saving more important because of the need to save coal. By 1916, Germany and its allies enforced daylight saving time calling it Sommerzeit.

Finally, after Britain passed the bill on May 17, 1916 it advanced the clocks by an hour on the following Sunday, 21st May. Subsequently, other European countries adopted daylight saving. Russia waited until 1917.

Sir Winston Churchill in his article “A silent toast to William Willett” in the Pictorial Weekly dated April 28, 1934 argued that daylight saving enlarges “the opportunities for the pursuit of health and happiness among the millions of people who live in this country.”

The term “summer time” replaced daylight saving time in draft legislation in Britain. Continental Europe uses similar phrases, like Sommerzeit in Germany, zomertijd in Dutch, horario de verano or hora de verano in Spain and l’heure d’été in France. In Italy, the term became ora legale, that is, legal time (legally enforced time) as opposed to ora solare, solar time, in Winter.

The United States adopted daylight saving time in 1918. Two states, Arizona and Hawaii do not observe daylight saving time. In 2005, President Bush signed the Energy Policy Act, extending daylight saving time by four weeks.

Many countries near or south of the equator do not observe DST. Kazakhstan dropped DST in 2005 citing negative health effects.

A few studies link an increase in heart attacks when DST goes into effect, and a decrease when it ends.

Still people debate whether DST actually saves energy.



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