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“Daylight-savings-time” aka “summertime” is the custom (reinforced by law in many countries) of advancing clocks during summer months by one hour, in order to have an extra hour of evening daylight, while cutting away from the morning by delaying sunrise by an hour. Just to dial all clocks an hour back with the coming of winter and the shortening of days. Which brings us full-circle to “daylight-savings-time” aka “fall back or wintertime” occurring on November 1st , where we reach 2:00AM and put time back to place by setting time an hour back to 1:00AM. It’s a routine procedure done every year threw many households throughout the world, buy why do we do it?

The original idea came from George Hudson, a New Zealander, who enjoyed indulging in his study of entomology, by collecting insects after his day-job and felt a need for more hours in the day, or just more “daylight”. This led him to write a paper to the “Wellington Philosophical Society” suggesting a two-hour daylight-saving shift, back in 1895. An argument he would return to and follow up on in 1898, but would only become a reality when the “Royal Society of New Zealand” celebrated the signing of the “Summer-Act of 1927”, 32 years after his initial proposal. Without forgetting to mention William Willet who also famously proposed and fought for what he designated “British Summer Time” and is many times erroneously credited for being the first proponent, instead of George Hudson.

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George Hudson the first proponent of “Daylight Savings TIme” * Image courtesy of Wikipedia

But, even before “daylight-savings-time” happened in George Hudson’s beloved homeland, Germany and Austria-Hungary organized the first implementation of what is now a standard practice in many countries, on April 30th 1916, dubbed “Sommerzeit”. Although not fully adopted by all countries worldwide, and with some of them adopting the daylight-savings only to later on opt-out. But, what did spark the biggest reason for certain countries adopting this time-system was the energy crisis of the 1970’s. During this period major industrial countries, such as: Western Europe, United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand were struggling with petroleum shortages and their inflated prices. This “energy crisis” was brought on due to the Iranian Revolution, which occurred due to a backlash against the Westernization of Iran and certain internal social injustices.

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Closed down gas stations in the 1970’s due to the “Energy Crisis” * Image courtesy of History Channel

The explanation in opting for “daylight-savings-time” has to do with gaining an extra hour of daylight. Just like its original proponent George Hudson had intended, so he could enjoy his hobbies awhile longer after his work-hours.  So, the day the time-change would take effect, everyone would wake-up, work, eat and get off work or school an hour earlier. Gaining and having more daytime at the end of the day for leisure. But, this also means there is one less hour of daylight in the morning. And also countries near the equator or in higher latitudes, like: Iceland or Alaska; have such a small or overly drastic daylight variation that it makes no sense for them to adopt “daylight-savings-time” at all.

Other arguments for the why and why not’s of “daylight-savings-time”, have to do with “savings”. When Germany and Austria-Hungary opted for tampering with time, it was a way for them to conserve coal during wartime. And each in his own time began to adopt this method, be it: Europe, Russia or United States, for similar reasons during WWI and WWII. But, no matter how devastating these wars were the biggest push towards daylight-savings was still the “energy crisis” of the 1970’s. And since then there have been many adjustments, repeals varying from country to country.

DST Controversy

But, still “daylight-savings-time” has been subject of controversy since its inception. With the most common dichotomy resulting between: retail vs agriculture. Historically retail interest tended to lobby for the implementation of daylight-savings, while agriculture which tends to be an early morning duty were against it. And if it weren’t for the war, the tampering with time might have never taken place. So, as war ended there was an immediate backlash movement to try and repeal “daylight-savings-time”. There would be a pull-and-tug with this ruling ever since, with some countries abandoning the notion, others molding it to better suit their cultures habits. New York actually kept the “daylight-savings-time” in order for its financial trades to keep an hour of arbitrage over London, and other cities involved in the exchanges. The standardization of DST would be implemented in the USA during peacetime in 1966.

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People shopping and going about their day late afternoon in Times Square, NY

All this fuss over an hour back or ahead, has yet to be completely resolved. Many countries are still battling over this issue in court to this day, with all kinds of justifications or rebuttals from either side. The most reasonable argument would be “energy savings” but, there hasn’t been a consensus on that either. Most studies show a minimal difference in consumption, while some studies even register an increase! The complete opposite of the intended effect. The only studies that reveal significant numbers, bring us back to the original dichotomy: retail vs agriculture. And the findings support the farmer’s claims that retailers are the most to benefit from “daylight-savings-time”. Studies reveal that an extra hour of sunlight in the afternoon leads people to consume more products and engage in more activities.

Now, with all these variables we’ve just recalled and the ongoing disputes for whether “daylight-savings-time” should even be maintained. How can someone know what time it is all the time? All year long? Especially if you’re a frequent traveler, be it for work or leisure. Dealing with 24 different possible time-zones, plus their adherence or not to DST. And the answer comes in the form of more acronyms: UTC (Universal Time Coordinated), GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), “Dual Time” or “World Timer”. All watch models with these designations were made to hold at least two time zones at a time or more.

http://www.elementintime.com/search.aspx?q=utc

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Written by Mauro Az