Time to end the menace that is Daylight Saving Time
The clincher in the argument for ending Daylight Saving Time arrived by Twitter on Saturday evening.
Ralph Goodale, who as a federal Liberal cabinet minister should have had much to trouble his mind, found time to tweak the nose of those Canadians who dwell other than in his home province of Saskatchewan.
“Dear Canada,” Goodale tweeted. “Thinking of you as you weather the calamity of Daylight Saving Time. Saskatchewan will be dozing soundly, while the scourge robs you of another hour of sleep tonight!”
Being taunted by Saskatchewan is more than this part of the country should be asked to bear.
While most of that province and a scattering of jurisdictions across Canada do not use DST – thereby freeing themselves of the obligation of flipping the clocks forth and back by an hour twice a year – most of the rest of us do.
The measure, often wrongly blamed on farmers, was initiated as an attempt to make better use of natural light and thereby reduce energy costs.
The concept was devised by a New Zealander and a Briton in the late 19th century and popularized in Germany, where it’s almost certain they have a (properly contemptuous) word for it.
In Canada, people in Thunder Bay, Ont., began messing with the clocks in 1908 and much of the rest of the country followed over the next decade.
And so we carry on with a tradition that is a disruptive nuisance, obliging Canadians to master the “spring forward, fall back” ditty along with their ABCs.
But there are two facts to consider: One, DST doesn’t deliver what it promises. Two, it has unintended negative consequences.
According to a report a year ago in Forbes magazine, it accomplishes none of the goals usually attributed to it, that is that it saves fuel and conserves energy, helps farmers, improves safety and provides a global standard.
In fact, only about half the countries in the world use Daylight Saving Time.
Research also shows the time switch is a health hazard.
Studies have shown the time changes cause sleep loss and behavioural changes that routinely produce an increase the number of traffic accidents in the period immediately following the switch.
The American writer William Penn once said “time is what we want most, but… what we use worst.”
Precisely. And it’s well past time we did something about it.