I’m loath to admit that I’d been fooled into believing the myth that farmers were the lobby that advanced the idea of daylight saving. As a farmer now, it flies in the face of reason that farmers would want this wholly artificial and arguably harmful construct to replace the natural schedule set by actual sunrise and sunset. In researching the topic further, I now understand the real reason why we engage in the daylight saving scheme: business interests.
First, let me discuss why daylight saving makes life for a farmer difficult. If you raise animals, you know that they (with a few notable exceptions, like waterfowl) settle down for the night at dusk and stir when the sun comes up and lights their enclosures. This very natural process is coordinated with circadian rhythms. It also means that a farmer gets out to do morning chores when it’s light and locks everyone up when it’s getting dark. If you work an off-farm job that requires you to start before it’s light out or where you get home after it’s dark, that means you’re trying to do chores in the dark, which can be both frustrating and dangerous (like moving tractors with animals inside).
When daylight saving ends, like it just did a couple of days ago, this natural ebb and flow is interrupted: now, while the the time I spend waiting in the morning for it to get light enough outside to attend to the animals is shorter, I’m rushing around in the evening to get everyone secured for the night, tractors moved to new ground, dog poop picked up from the front yard, food bowls picked up. The schedule is oddly compressed in a day that already seems like it doesn’t have enough hours. It feels harried and unnatural, and it makes me quite cross.
The artificiality of daylight saving has negative health impacts, too. Not only does the “flipping the switch” change wreak havoc on sleep schedules (as many of us know, awakening at the “usual” hour only to find it’s an hour early now or not being ready for bed when the clock tells us we need to turn in) but, according to this Massive Science article, “incidences of heart attacks increase around the time change in both spring and fall. Other examples of the poor health outcomes of DST include increases in traffic accidents, less sleep that can translate into higher workplace injury rates, and increases in emergency hospital visits.”
Another rationale for daylight saving that I discovered while researching it is assumed energy savings – which admittedly made sense back in Benjamin Franklin’s days of candlelight, but less so now. Studies have reached different conclusions on the question of whether DST saves energy; an Indiana study found that “daylight time led to a 1 percent overall rise in residential electricity use, costing the state an extra $9 million.” The causes were thought to be “increased demand for cooling on summer evenings and heating in early spring and late fall mornings.”
While I appreciate that daylight saving benefits retailers and certain businesses (more shopping hours, more time on the golf course), overall, it just doesn’t make sense to impose this scheme because of special interests…to the detriment of the greater populace. And, to be honest, shopping online probably isn’t really affected by whether there are longer sunlight hours.
It’s time to stop the madness and stick to Standard Time. Yes, that means fewer hours of sunshine in the summer (and I, for one, would be glad to be able to secure the animals prior to 10 p.m. at the height of summer), but it also means not needing to try to adjust, physically and psychologically, to that “switch flip”.
Where do you stand on daylight saving? Tell us about it in the comments!