of November 2nd, most of North America gained an hour of extra sleep. In the U.K.
and Europe the clocks went back. Changing the clocks is always carried
out on a Sunday to minimize disruption. Not every state
in the U.S. puts back the clocks to standard time. Residents of Hawaii and Arizona
do not adjust their clocks, nor
do United States Territories. The northern state of Alaska still observes DST but there is
a move by Alaska’s lieutenant governor Loren
Leman to try to abolish it. Alaska’s difference
in daylight from summer to winter is already extreme due to the state’s northerly latitude.
The same applies to Florida, due to its southerly latitude. Since
1970s, Canadian provinces and territories
have matched their timings to coincide with the United
States. Contrary to the rest of Europe,
DST timings were adjusted in 2007 by the Energy Policy Act of 2005,
to begin on the second Sunday in March and the first Sunday in November
for Canada and the U.S. In Europe it is traditionally the third Sunday
in March and the last Sunday in October.
So why does a significant portion of the world adjust
its clocks on an annual basis -
one-hour forward in spring and one-hour back in fall? Turning the
clocks back and forward has always proved controversial. It proves
advantageous for retailers, sporting events
and other activities that are able to exploit an extra hour of
daylight. However, it can prove problematical for those whose
businesses are tied to the sun, such as farming or entertainment.
An extra hour of daylight saves energy and has been proved to reduce traffic fatalities.
There is also evidence to suggest that
turning our clocks back by one-hour can help the heart. Swedish researchers
discovered, by keeping records
for over 20 years, that the number of heart attacks dipped on the
Monday after clocks were set back an hour, possibly because people
got an extra hour of sleep.
However, the bi-annual shifts in timing can complicate timekeeping. Travel can be
disrupted, along with the working of
machines such as medical devices and heavy
equipment. In the commercial world, meetings,
recordkeeping, and timekeeping
can be disrupted, although the majority of computer-based systems
adjust themselves automatically. It was in
the 1700s when people first recognized the potential of saving energy
by turning the clocks ahead by one-hour in summer; even one of America’s
greatest scientific minds, Benjamin Franklin, made reference to it
However, DST was not actually first formally proposed until the
1900s by William Willet, an English builder. In 1907 Willet published
a pamphlet “The Waste of Daylight” which proposed that the clocks
should be advanced by 80 minutes in
the summer, which he claimed would save ￡2.5 million
in lighting costs. William Willett
did not live to see his proposal become law, as he died in 1915.
Daylight saving was finally introduced in May 1916 by
Winston Churchill’s government during World War One, as there was
a dire need to save coal.
Australia introduced DST during the First World War, and was used
again during the Second. During both World Wars, the United States
and Great Britain observed daylight saving time. More than 1.5 billion
people worldwide live in countries that use daylight saving time.
In addition to most of North America and Europe, these include areas of South America,
a few areas of Africa, New Zealand and parts of Australia. The Middle
East and the Far East and Indian Sub Continent do not practice DST, although at
one time countries like India, Japan and China did.