Columns, Opinion

Minority Report: Daylight saving time forever

The end of daylight saving time has made all our days darker — literally. I got home just after 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, by which time the light had all but vanished.

Like many others, I am in a better mood when it is light outside. Like many college students, I am not an early riser, so the sun coming up earlier is imperceptible to me. It is a reasonless day dampener to end daylight saving time. We should finally make daylight saving time year-round to alleviate this problem.

Yvonne Tang / DFP Staff

In the early 20th century, Germany popularized daylight saving time. The Germans used daylight saving time to conserve fuel during World War I by decreasing the use of artificial light.

The change was adopted in the United States in 1918 to help with the war effort. The change was repealed in 1919 after the war ended but picked up again from 1942 to 1945 by President Franklin Roosevelt. After World War II, states and localities gained the right to decide whether or not they wanted to keep daylight saving time. The Uniform Time Act of 1966 changed this by standardizing daylight saving time nationwide.

The United States’s on-again, off-again relationship with daylight saving time is another reason to experiment with making daylight saving time permanent. If we decide we want to go back to the current system, Congress can reverse course quickly and easily.

Additionally, eternalizing daylight saving time is not just an intuitive, yet meritless, wish from the people. There is plenty of research showing tangible benefits of permanent daylight saving time.

For example, a JP Morgan Chase study found a decrease of between 2.2% to 4.9% in economic activity after the end of daylight saving time. The American economy relies so heavily on consumer spending that any obstacle — such as turning the clocks back — makes little sense. There would have to be a significant mitigating factor to justify the current circumstance, and there is currently no such factor.

American health is another aspect at stake here. Children get more exercise when the sun sets later, so extending daylight saving time could be one easy way to help combat childhood obesity in the United States and promote physical fitness.

Making daylight saving time year-round also has public safety benefits. There is evidence that robbery rates declined significantly when daylight saving time was extended.

Regarding traffic safety, researchers at the National Library of Medicine estimated that year-round daylight saving time would eliminate 171 pedestrian fatalities per year.

One of the few arguments against the change is that it would hurt farmers, who would have to work and wake later if daylight saving time was permanent. Farmers do important work and should be respected and valued. However, farmers also make up only 2% of the population, and their needs should be balanced against the remaining 98%. Furthermore, dairy farmers might benefit from clocks staying the same so they would not have to adjust milking schedules for their cows.

The most frustrating thing about ending daylight saving time is that making daylight saving time permanent is not even a partisan issue that would cause much debate. From former President Donald Trump to Senator Ed Markey, politicians across the political spectrum have supported making daylight saving time permanent.

Additionally, the state legislatures that have supported permanence have very different politics. In the last four years, the list of states supporting year-round daylight saving time includes Alabama, Minnesota, South Carolina, Wyoming, Oregon, Florida and Washington. However, congressional action makes the most sense so that the nation’s time synchronizes.

Republican and Democratic senators reintroduced the Sunshine Protection Act — which would make daylight saving time permanent — in March of this year. Though there are more pressing issues facing the nation, changing to permanent daylight saving time would boost the economy, fight childhood obesity and aid public safety. Congress and President Biden could give themselves the early Christmas gift of passing a popular and effective bill. It’s about time for them to do so.

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