The Politics of Daylight Saving Time

POLITICS

The debate around whether to fall back and spring forward has been heating up in state legislatures. (Nat Geo News)

Use our resources to learn more about the origins of daylight saving time—and don’t forget it ends on Sunday.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit, and be sure to vote in today’s poll!

Although daylight saving time is not used in most world countries (red and orange), it is common throughout most of the Western world. Map by Paul Eggert, courtesy Wikimedia. CC-BY-SA-3.0

Although daylight saving time is not used in most countries (red and orange), it is common throughout most of the Western world.
Map by Paul Eggert, courtesy Wikimedia. CC-BY-SA-3.0

Discussion Ideas

  • What is daylight saving time?
    • According to the featured article over at Wikipedia, “daylight saving time (DST) is the practice of advancing clocks during summer months by one hour, so that in the evening daylight is experienced an hour longer. Typically, users adjust clocks forward one hour close to the start of spring and adjust them backward in the autumn to standard time.”
    • In the U.S., we “spring forward” (lose an hour) the second Sunday in March, and “fall back” (gain an hour) the first Sunday in November. The change is marked as “daylight time” or “standard time.” For instance, we at Nat Geo HQ here in Washington, D.C., will go from EDT (Eastern Daylight Time) to EST (Eastern Standard Time) on Sunday. (Find your own time zone with MapMaker Interactive.)

 

  • According to Nat Geo News, “lawmakers in many states are increasingly trying to avoid the time change.” What are some arguments for keeping daylight saving time?
    • According to Nat Geo News, businesses tend to support DST because the sudden change produces an extra hour of evening daylight and induces people to go out and spend.
    • According to USA Today, one argument for daylight saving time is that fewer accidents happen during daylight hours. So extending morning (in winter) and evening (in summer) daylight results in a slight reduction in automobile accidents.
    • According to USA Today, the idea behind daylight saving time is to take advantage of daylight hours and save energy. According to a 2008 Department of Energy study, U.S. electricity use was decreased by 0.5% for each day of the extended daylight saving time, resulting in a savings of 0.03% for the year as a whole.
    • According to USA Today, daylight was in many ways meant to provide more time to work in agricultural fields.
    • According to at least one politician, many constituents want to “pick a time and stick with it.”

 

  • What are some arguments for getting rid of the time change?
    • Opponents criticize government oversight of time. (Although the change is not federally mandated, the Uniform Time Act established a set time between areas that choose to “spring forward” and “fall back” in 1966.)
    • According to Time and Date, farmers in the developing world protest that the time change makes milking cows a challenge.
    • According to some health-care professionals, the human body does not readily or easily adapt to jarring changes in the alarm clock.

 

 

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

Nat Geo: The Politics of Daylight Saving Time

Nat Geo: 1918: Daylight Saving Time Observed

Nat Geo: Daylight Saving Time: A Short History

USA Today: Daylight saving time: 5 things to know

Time and Date: The pros and cons of Daylight Saving Time

New York Times: Daylight Saving Time, at What Cost? debate

Time and Date: Upcoming Daylight Saving Time Clock Changes

3 responses to “The Politics of Daylight Saving Time

  1. I say we set our clocks 30 minutes in between, and leave the damn thing alone. But that’s just me.

  2. Pingback: Daylight Saving Time Lessons, Projects & Tips·

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