A bipartisan measure that would make daylight saving time permanent starting in 2023 unanimously passed the U.S. Senate on Tuesday.
Co-sponsors of the bill, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Se. Ed Markey, spoke on the Senate floor before the bill was easily passed with support on both sides of the aisle, dubbed the “Sunshine Protection Act.”
Daylight saving time started last weekend (March 13) and is in effect until November 6, when it ends, and clocks move back one hour. If the law is enacted, the time would change in the spring of 2023 and it would stay that way. The law would take effect in November of 2023.
“States with areas exempt from daylight saving time may choose the standard time for those areas,” the text of the bill reads.
The legislation now moves to the U.S. House, and if it passes, to President Biden’s desk for signing. The days of changing your clocks could be over soon.
History of daylight saving time
The idea to move clocks up and back was actually first suggested by Benjamin Franklin in an essay he published in 1784, suggesting Parisians should wake up earlier to utilize the morning daylight more efficiently.
Generally, the DST concept was to offer more daylight during working hours in the winter months, when daylight is shorter. DST as we know it was proposed by a New Zealand entomologist, George Vernon Hudson, who wanted longer hours for insect study.
But it wasn’t for another 100+ years until any country really started looking at the idea. Port Arthur, Ontario was the first city in the world to implement DST, back in 1908.
The idea caught on in other countries after World War I, including in the United States in 1918. Author Michael Downing, who wrote “Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of daylight saving time,” says it didn’t go over very well.
“When the Congress poked its finger into the face of every clock in the country, millions of Americans winced,” Downing wrote. “United by a determination to beat back the big hand of government,” daylight saving time opponents “raised holy hell, vowing to return the nation to real time, normal time, farm time, sun time—the time they liked to think of as “God’s time.’”
American farmers were opposed to DST because, regardless of what the clock said, their cows weren’t ready to be milked until later in the day during DST.
So, that only lasted until 1919, when the federal government passed the power down to the states. But it just became too messy. So, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act of 1966, which was intended to simplify daylight saving time practices and time zones. There have been several tweaks over the years.
Approximately 1.5 billion people in 70 countries observe DST worldwide, as it stands.
The pros of daylight saving time
- We get longer evenings in the warmer months. Some could argue that longer nights are good for business, depending on where you live. It could also be healthier -- think of the time you have after the workday, perhaps to go for a run, or enjoy a movie. The golf industry reported that one month of DST was worth $200 to $400 million because of the extended evening hours golfers can play.
- It’s safer: Longer daylight hours make driving safer, lowers car accident rates, and lowers the risk of pedestrians being hit by a car.
The cons of daylight saving time
- It’s messed up your sleep -- and therefore your health: Changing sleep patterns, even by one hour, goes against a person’s natural circadian rhythms and has negative consequences for health. One study found that the risk of a heart attack increases 10% the Monday and Tuesday following the spring time chnge.
- Productivity drops: Dr. Till Roenneberg, a German chronobiologist, who studies the body’s relationship with light and dark, notes that the human circadian clock doesn’t adjust to DST and the “consequence of that is that the majority of the population has drastically decreased productivity, decreased quality of life, increasing susceptibility to illness, and is just plain tired.” (Also see: Science Says: How daylight saving time affects health)
- It’s expensive: According to the Lost-Hour Economic Index, moving the clocks forward has a total cost to the US economy of $434 million nationally, factoring in health issues, decreased productivity, and workplace injuries. The Air Transport Association estimated that DST cost the airline industry $147 million dollars in 2007 thanks to confused time schedules with countries who do not participate in the time change.