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HISTORY TODAY: DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME (DST) Proposed in 1784 to Aligning Workers to Use Less Candles by Benjamin Franklin

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Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Mar.15: 2023:

#AceHistoryDesk – Daylight saving time (DST), also referred to as daylight savings time, daylight time (United States, Canada, and Australia), or summer time(United Kingdom, European Union, and others), is the practice of advancing clocks (typically by one hour) during warmer months so that darkness falls at a later clock time.

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The typical implementation of DST is to set clocks forward by one hour in either the late winter or spring (“spring forward”), and to set clocks back by one hour in the fall (“fallback”) to return to standard time. As a result, there is one 23-hour day in early spring and one 25-hour day in the middle of autumn.

World map. Europe, most of North America, parts of southern South America and southeastern Australia, and a few other places use DST. Most of equatorial Africa and a few other places near the equator have never used DST as the seasons are not marked by drastic changes in light. The rest of the landmass is marked as formerly using DST.
Daylight saving time regions:

 Northern Hemisphere summer

 Southern Hemisphere summer

The idea of aligning waking hours to daylight hours to conserve candles was first proposed in 1784 by U.S. polymath Benjamin Franklin.

In a satirical letter to the editor of The Journal of Paris, Franklin suggested that waking up earlier in the summer would economize on candle usage; and calculated considerable savings.

In 1895 the idea dates back and has been controversial ever since.

New Zealand entomologist and astronomer George Hudson proposed the idea of changing clocks by two hours every spring to the Wellington Philosophical Society.

In 1907:

British resident William Willettpresented the idea as a way to save energy. After some serious consideration, it was not implemented.

In 1908:

Port Arthur in Ontario, Canada, now merged into Thunder Bay, started using DST. Starting on 30 April 1916, the German Empire and Austria-Hungary each organized the first nationwide implementation in their jurisdictions.

While Germany and Austria were the first countries to implement daylight savings, the first towns to implement a seasonal time-shift were Port Arthur and Fort William, Canada in 1908.)

The first real experiments with daylight saving time began during World War I. On April 30, 1916, Germany and Austria implemented a one-hour clock shift as a way of conserving electricity needed for the war effort. The United Kingdom and several other European nations adopted daylight saving shortly thereafter, and the United States followed suit in 1918.

Most Americans only saw the time adjustment as a wartime act, and it was later repealed in 1919. Standard time ruled until 1942, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt re-instituted daylight saving during World War II.

Many countries have used DST at various times since then, particularly since the 1970s energy crisis.

Finally, in 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act, which standardized daylight saving across the country and established its start and end times in April and October (later changed to March and November in 2007)

This time, more states continued using daylight saving after the conflict ended, but for decades there was little consistency with regard to its schedule.

The original bill, called the Sunshine Protection Act, passed the Senate in 2022, but it stalled in the House and expired at the end of the last 2022 session of Congress.

DST is generally not observed near the Equator, where sunrise and sunset times do not vary enough to justify it. Some countries observe it only in some regions: for example, parts of Australia observe it, while other parts do not. Conversely, it is not observed at some places at high latitudes, because there are wide variations in sunrise and sunset times and a one-hour shift would relatively not make much difference. The United States observes it, except for the states of Hawaii and Arizona (within the latter, however, the Navajo Nation does observe it, conforming to federal practice). A minority of the world’s population uses DST; Asia, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean generally do not.

Why Do We Have Daylight Saving Time?

Many think that daylight saving time was conceived to give farmers an extra hour of sunlight to till their fields, but this is a common misconception. In fact, farmers have long been opposed to springing forward and falling back, since it throws off their usual harvesting schedule. 

The real reasons for daylight saving are based around energy conservation and a desire to match daylight hours to the times when most people are awake. The idea dates back to 1895, when entomologist George Vernon Hudson unsuccessfully proposed an annual two-hour time shift to the Royal Society of New Zealand. 

Ten years later, the British construction magnate William Willett picked up where Hudson left off when he argued that the United Kingdom should adjust their clocks by 80 minutes each spring and fall to give people more time to enjoy daytime recreation. Willett was a tireless advocate of what he called “Summer Time,” but his idea never made it through Parliament.

Today, daylight saving time is used in dozens of countries across the globe, but it remains a controversial practice. Most studies show that its energy savings are only negligible, and some have even found that costs are higher, since people in hot climates are more apt to use air conditioners in the daytime. 

Meanwhile, Hawaii and Arizona have opted out of daylight saving altogether and remain on standard time year round. In March 2023, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida reintroduced a bill to make daylight saving time permanent across the country, arguing an end to the “antiquated practice” of changing clocks twice a year.

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