In September we learned the European Union was progressing a step closer to ending changing clocks twice a year.
At the beginning of the year, with what started as a complaint from Finland, after gathering tens of thousands of signatures from its citizens to force their Finnish EU ministers to begin lobbying the European Union to no longer observe Daylight Saving Time (DST), actually ended up sparking debate throughout the EU involving public opinion polls and deadlines now progresses with the European Commission drafting legislation heading to the European Parliament and the European Council for a vote “to stop changing the clock” throughout EU member nations.TNB
After polling EU citizens last summer, the EU Commission released the early results “Summer Consultation: 84% want Europe to stop changing the clock,” with the fully published data to be released shortly thereafter.
“The final results of the public consultation will be published in the coming weeks. The Commission will now make a proposal to the European Parliament and the Council with a view of changing the current clock change arrangements.”
On Wednesday, NPR reported, “the European Parliament has voted to discontinue daylight saving time. However, before the proposal becomes a law, European Union member states will need to hammer out the details.”
Under the proposal, by 2020 each EU member state would need to choose either “summertime” (daylight saving time) or “wintertime” (standard time). The change would go into effect in 2021.NPR
But the ideas that originally underpinned the resetting of clocks may not hold up, the EU found: the energy savings are marginal, the health and road safety impacts are inconclusive, and in agriculture, artificial lights and automation have lessened the importance of the time change.
A number of the EU’s neighbors and trading partners have already decided against a time change, including Iceland, China, Russia, Belarus and Turkey.
If the proposal becomes law, any EU nation’s choice of “summertime” or “wintertime” effectively means a choice of which time zone(s) it will reside in.
Of course, this is not to be confused with the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which is the world’s agreed upon ‘coordinated’ standard time using closely synchronized and highly precise atomic clocks combined with the Earth’s rotation..
We’ve been changing our clocks to ‘spring’ forward or ‘fall’ backwards for a hundred years so debates over it are not surprising. They run the gambit from who first suggested it, Benjamin Franklin in 1784 or scientists in New Zealand in 1895? to who first started it, Canada or Germany? – though there is evidence the Romans changed scales in their water clocks to adjust their schedules to solar time – to now days: Why do we still need it?
According to TimeandDate “less than 40% of the countries in the world use DST today” and that “daylength variations are negligible around the equator and most tropical territories do not change their clocks.
But if the majority of the world’s countries do not change their clocks twice a year today, why do we still use it?
The pros and cons seem to be the same the world over.
It’s still used today, they tell us, to save energy and make better use of daylight. We have longer summer evenings for recreational activities and the tourism industry makes good use of the extra time in summer which is good, they say, for local economies. Crime, they say, is less with more daylight.
But does it save energy in today’s world? When it began to take hold, people didn’t have access to the energy consuming products and services we have today. A hundred years ago more daylight meant having to use less artificial light. In an agriculturally driving society extra daylight was put to good use. But now, they say, the amount of energy saving may not only be negligible, but possibly may increase energy use, according to an Indiana study done “when they decided to introduce DST in 2006.” Indiana has two time zones in their state, eastern and central, so maybe that is why they waited so long?
In the United States, most states observe DST time change with the exception being Arizona, except for the Navajo who do observe it on tribal lands, and Hawaii. Territories who don’t observe DST are American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands.
Now that the European Union Parliament has voted that nation member states are to end their observance of changing their clocks forward or backward twice a year, that 40% who still use it drops drastically. Will the rest of the world do the same? At that point, maybe the rest of the world will finally do the same as we progress into the technological age?