Poll – Would you abolish DST?

 

Now that Europe and North America have moved back to winter time from Daylight Saving Time  my readers living in these regions will be experiencing the darker evenings and lighter mornings. I have decided to create a poll about how you my readers feel about the twice yearly clock change. It will be interesting to see what the results are.

So if you live in a country in the world which observes DST, or has recently abolished it, please complete the poll below. This also applies of course to my readers in the Southern Hemisphere who change their clocks at different times.

Daylight Saving time poll

For some additional background here is part of my previous post on this topic

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The beginning of DST

The first place in the world to practise DST was the town of Port Arthur, Ontario. In 1908, a local businessman, John Hewitson petitioned the town council to adjust the clocks one hour forward in the summer months so the locals could enjoy an extra hour of summer sun. The council agreed and the town turned its clocks ahead one hour from June to September.

DST became established in Europe and North America during the first world war. Two of the Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary) adopted it in April 1916 followed by many European countries later that year. The US adopted it in 1918. The main justification for its use was that by having an extra hour of daylight in the evening, it reduced the need for energy in the stretched wartime economies.

Applying DST shifts the day.  People lose an hour of daylight in the morning and gain an hour of daylight in the evening. Advocates of DST believe that the extra hour of daylight in the evening can be put to good use – allowing people to do outdoor activities in the evening with less need for artificial light. The hour of daylight lost in the early morning is of little importance, as it occurs before most people have started their daily activities. For example, on 21 June 2021, the Sun  rose in London at 4:43 AM and set at 9:21 PM. If the UK didn’t observe DST it would  have risen at 3:43 AM and set at 8:21 PM.

Supporters of DST claims it reduces energy usage for heating and lighting. Although this may have been true in the past, this benefit is now debatable. Modern light-bulbs are very energy efficient and,  in many Southern states of the US, DST causes energy consumption to rise because it is slightly warmer in the evening – increasing the energy used on air conditioning.

The Decline of DST

Despite some of its proposed advantages, only one billion people live in a place which observes DST. In the map below the countries are coloured as follows.

  • The areas shaded in blue observe Northern Hemisphere DST.
  • The areas in orange observe Southern Hemisphere DST.
  • The areas in dark grey have never observed DST.
  • The areas in light grey used to observe DST (or permanent daylight saving where the clocks are advanced by one hour all year) but no longer do so.

Image from Wikimedia commons.

One disadvantage of DST is that the twice yearly clock shifts are disruptive to sleep patterns and need to be manually applied in many clocks, watches and some central heating timers. On the day of the change there can be disturbance to plans and people can arrive an hour late or early for appointments.

Another issue is that countries which observe DST do not change their clocks at the same time. For example, New York, like most of the US, puts it clocks forward at 2 AM (local time) on the second Sunday in March and back at 2 AM (local time) on the first Sunday in November. Whereas London, like the rest of the EU, put its clock forward at 1 AM (UTC) on the last Sunday in March and back at 1 AM (UTC) on the last Sunday in October.  Therefore,  for most of the year New York is five hours behind London, but there are two periods when the time difference is four hours. This can cause confusion e.g. when people try to arrange a transatlantic phone call in either of these periods.

A further complexity is that the small number of countries in the Southern Hemisphere which still use DST put their clocks forward at the start of their spring (which corresponds to the Northern Hemisphere autumn) and back at the start of their autumn (which corresponds to the Northern Hemisphere spring).

For example, if we consider Chile and New York, For five months of the year Chile is on the same time as New York.  For roughly four and a half months Chile is two hours ahead and at other times one hour ahead. A recipe for confusion!

Data from https://www.timeanddate.com/time/change/chile

Recently, a number of countries have abolished the twice-yearly clock changes.

In 2011 Russia switched to permanent summer time. This was announced amid research claiming that changing the clocks  caused Russians ‘stress and illness’.  However, many Russians didn’t like very dark mornings in  winter  caused by having the clocks permanently advanced. For example, in Moscow, the sun didn’t rise until 9:57 AM on the date of the winter solstice. So, in 2014 Russia switched to permanent winter time to bring the civil time more in step with the solar time. Belarus, which has close political and economic ties with Russia also stopped the twice-yearly clock changes in 2011, but unlike Russia remains on permanent summer time (UTC+3).

Other populous countries which have recently abolished DST include:

  • Turkey (population 86 million) in 2018
  • Argentina (population 46 million) in 2009.
  • Brazil (population 215 million) in 2020
  • China (population 1.44 billion) in 1991.
  • Iraq (population 42 million) in 2007.
  • South Korea (population 52 million) in 1988.
  • Uzbekistan (population 33 million) in 1991.

For more details see (https://www.timeanddate.com/time/dst/statistics.html )

Attempt to abandon  DST in the EU

On March 26, 2019, the European Parliament voted in favour of backing the EU Committee draft directive to stop the one-hour clock change in the European Union. This was widely reported in the press at the time e.g. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-47704345 and was supposed to be implemented in 2021. It followed an EU-wide public consultation in 2018 which showed 84% of respondents wanting to scrap the biannual clock changes.  However, the public consultation was poorly publicised and I, like the vast majority of UK citizens, was unaware it was taking place. In fact I have yet to meet anyone who aware of the consultation!

In total only 4.6 million people (less than 1% of EU population) expressed an opinion.  If the proposal had been adopted each country in the EU would have to have decided whether to remain on permanent summer time or permanent winter time. However, it needs the agreement of the EU member states and I suspect it won’t be implemented for some time

One  stumbling block was that the  abolition of DST is opposed by most people in the Republic of Ireland. Shortly after the announcement the Irish government said they would oppose the change.  The Irish objection is because the UK (which includes Northern Ireland) has no plans to abolish the twice-yearly clock changes. This would mean that, regardless of whether Ireland opted to remain on permanent winter time or permanent summer time, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would be on different time zones for approximately half the year. To many in Ireland this is unacceptable.

The Future of DST in the USA.

At present the US has no plan to abolish DST. Although individual states are allowed to opt out and remain on permanent winter time. At the moment, Hawaii and Arizona are the only states which do so.  Interestingly, states are not permitted to remain on permanent year-round summer time. In 2014 a poll of around 1000 American adults found that only a minority (33%) were in favour of the clock changes, 48% were against and the remainder unsure.

However, at the moment, there is no strong nationwide push to abolish DST

DST in the Future

DST is falling out of use and now out of the 7.8 billion people in the world only one billion live in area where it is observed. If the EU does eventually abolish DST, this figure will reduce to half a billion. I think that it is very likely that in the next twenty years DST will fall into disuse throughout the world. Perhaps, in fifty years time, people will look back on DST as an arcane activity practiced in the twentieth and early twenty-first century.

11 thoughts on “Poll – Would you abolish DST?”

  1. I also agree with Philip that 12N should be close to mid-day. I have always hated DST, and I want you to hate it, too.

    Like

  2. Thank you Philip I agree with your point of view.

    Like you, I would prefer that the time when the Sun is at its highest elevation in the sky is a close to possible to 12-noon.
    Until the advent of standard time zones established this was the case.

    Like

    1. Dear Steve

      I’ve been thinking about this. The problem lies in the measurement of astronomical clocks with mere earthly clocks. The planets will continue to revolve long after the mechanical and electric clocks have stopped. If we go back to sundials all will be well.

      However. Clocks do have a role to play stopping shipping bumping into the Scilly
      Isles because they didn’t think they were there. (The ships navigators rather than the Scilly isles. ). Longitude etc.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Steve,

    I’ve lived my entire life changing the clocks twice a year (first in England and now in Australia) and for the most part I am very comfortable with it.

    However, I voted to Abolish the twice yearly clock changes and keep my clocks on autumn(fall)/winter time all year round for two reasons:

    1. As an amateur astronomer, daylight-saving loses me a precious hour of darkness; and
    2. There are so many clocks to change now, it’s become a #@$%*#! nuisance to keep changing them all!

    🙃

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was a relatively minor nuisance. I had to change four clocks. Everything else else including my central timer was automated.

      BUT I suspect many amateur astronomers would prefer to stay on winter time all year round (or even put the clocks BACK an hour in the summer months) 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks Steve. Enjoy your articles. Read the book on Venus and the moon. Enjoyed them.

    For me personally, I think midday should be the time when the sun is highest in the sky and hopefully due south. We live quite close to Herstmonceux Castle. So I have an affinity for GMT. I have a scientific affinity to UTC.

    I don’t think we gain that much from the annual winter hour catch up. Ok appts in early November might be slightly more on time. There is also an argument for less car crashes in the rush hour when the rush hour is held in daylight rather than darkness. I’m not sure if change improves outcomes.

    Otherwise there’s not much change, particularly now the smartphones and various other chipped devices automatically change. Perhaps you could have a word with our cooker clock and the old digital devices that find their owners increasingly perplexed as the years flood by.

    Thanks for the articles

    Kind regards

    Philip Dawson

    Like

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