It’s approaching that time of year, when the leaves turn to a beautiful red gold, and every person in the United States sets every clock they own one hour forward. Daylight’s saving time has a long and controversial history. The concept of adjusting time on a daily basis has been around since the Mayans. They would regularly change the hours of the day so that they could make the most of daylight hours during the summer. However after the fall of the Roman Empire fluctuating hours were eventually replaced by equal length civil hours, so hours no longer change by seasons.
Daylight’s saving time was first proposed in 1885 by a man named George Vernon Hudson from New Zealand. Hudson worked a shift job, and first became interested in the concept of pushing time forward by one hour in the spring (when it stays light longer), and backward in the fall (when it becomes light earlier in the day), when he realized people were sleeping through several hours during the summer that they could be using to work or harvest. His primary reason in proposing this was so that he could have more time after he got off of work in the afternoon to practice his hobby of insect collecting. While considerable interest was shown at his proposal, it was not really implemented till World War I, when Germany starting using it in 1916. During the war it was essential to preserve coal, so DST was a sensible way to make the most of daylight and preserve natural resources.
While a one hour shift is customary, there are some countries that us half hour or 20 minutes shifts. There have been various studies done on the effects of DST, and some of them have yielded significant results. For example, there are less automobile accidents and petty crime when there is extra afternoon daylight, and retail stores and sports thrive when there is extra light at the end of the day. However, businesses such as farming are hurt by DST, because they aren’t able to farm as late during the day.
Most clocks, such as computer clocks, will set themselves forward and back during DST, but wall clocks and alarm clocks, etc, will not, and must be done manually. DST changes every year, but the local news channels will warn people regularly when the time is about to change. In 2010, DST will the first Sunday in November, so don’t forget to change those clocks, and get the most out of your day!