Sunday, March 13, 2016

Some States to Abandon Daylight Saving Time ?

Samuel Pierpont Langley.jpg
Samuel Pierpont Langley, second Director of Pittsburgh's
Allegheny Observatory and third Director of the Smithsonian
Institution (then considered the nation's highest scientific
appointment) assisted the railroads in the establishment of time
zones by providing precise time signals via the telegraph.
(Image Sources: , By Low resolution in context, Public Domain, )

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

At the moment of the posting of this blog post (Sunday Morning, 2016 March 13 at 2:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time / 7:00 Coordinated Universal Time), Daylight Saving Time has taken effect in the Eastern Time Zone with 2:00 becoming 3:00.

At this time, most Americans will be advancing their clocks by one hour (except for computerized clocks which advance automatically) in the annual “Spring-Forward” exercise to accommodate Daylight Saving Time—unless they advanced their clocks before going to bed Saturday night. And, there are always some who forget (and who may be late to church) or procrastinate and need to change their clocks on Sunday.

Since 2007, the last time the law changed, clocks in America have advanced an hour on the second Sunday of March (previously, the first Sunday in April) and returned ("Fall-Back") to Standard Time on the first Sunday in November (previously, the last Sunday in October). This year, clocks will return to Standard Time on November 6, when 2:00 a.m. Daylight Saving Time will become 1:00 a.m. Standard Time.

Actually, the states of Hawaii and Arizona do not observe Daylight Saving Time, except for some Native American nation reservations in Arizona. Several American territories also do not observe Daylight Saving Time including the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Virgin Islands of the United States, American Samoa, and Guam.

March 13 is also the conclusion to the annual National Sleep Awareness Week. Sponsored by the National Sleep Foundation, this week highlights the importance of people getting enough sleep each night. And, this is particularly important when the last day of this week occurs on the day clocks are advanced an hour, with the possibility that people may lose an hour of sleep if they do not plan for getting an additional hour of sleep that night.

And, it is strongly suggested to use the twice-a-year time change to check, and possibly replace, batteries in vital warning instruments such as smoke / fire detectors / alarms, carbon monoxide (CO) detectors / alarms, and NOAA Weather / Hazard Alarm Radios (and / or other portable, transistor radios used to obtain weather broadcasts and other emergency news and information).

Although it may seem odd to have such a time change occur at a time when most people are asleep, there is a logical reason for the 2:00 time for the change to occur. With fewer people awake, and few important events occurring at 2:00 in the morning, this time change can happen fairly seamlessly, with no major activities being adversely affected. Although 12:00 Midnight may seem like a more logical time for such a change, more people are awake, and more activities are still happening, at Midnight, particularly on a Saturday night / Sunday morning.

However, several states are considering abandoning Daylight Saving Time, while a few states are even considering moving to a different time-zone, year-round!

Instigated by the railroads to simplify passenger schedules, time zones were established in the 19th century. Technological advances of the time, such as the telegraph and the transit-telescope, allowed Pittsburgh's Allegheny Observatory to assist the railroads with precise time for the new time zones.

However, time zones are fairly large, meaning that sunrise and sunset occurs at significantly different times for a town on the eastern edge of a time zone and one on the western edge of the same time zone. In the early 20th century, some people wanted to provide more daylight in the evening hours during the Summer months and proposed to advance all clocks by one hour for “Daylight Saving Time.”

Actually, changing daily habits to take advantage of more daylight during the Summer months was first proposed by Benjamin Franklin in 1784, while he was a diplomat in Paris. In an anonymous letter that was published, he used satire to suggest that it would be better to use the sunlight of the morning rather than to waste candles in the evening. Although, it should be noted that he did not actually propose a plan similar to the Daylight Saving Time we know today.

Robert Garland, a Pittsburgh industrialist and a member of the Pittsburgh City Council for 28 years (1911 to 1939), is considered the “Father of Daylight Saving,” as he chaired the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's national “Special Committee on Daylight Saving.” He fought hard for the establishment of Summer Daylight Saving Time.

It was not until 1918, shortly after the United States entered World War I, that U.S. President Woodrow Wilson instituted the Daylight Saving plan to help the War effort. Although spurred by farmers and other agricultural interests who never liked Daylight Saving Time, the U.S. Congress repealed the plan seven months later. However, several cities including Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Boston, and New York City continued using Daylight Saving Time during the Summer months.

U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt resurrected Daylight Saving Time as “War Time” for the duration of World War II. However, after the War, Daylight Saving Time did not become Federal law during peace time until the Uniform Time Act of 1966 was enacted. Hawaii never observed Daylight Saving Time while Arizona (except some tribal nations in the state) opted-out in 1968. Most of Indiana did not observe Daylight Saving Time until 2006; now the entire state observes it.

To reduce energy consumption during the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973, year-round Daylight Saving Time was established in the United States beginning on 1974 January 6. However, many mothers were quite upset that this meant that their children had to travel to school during the dark early mornings in the Winter months. Thousands of these mothers (including the author's mother, Eleanor A. Walsh) wrote letters to their representatives in Congress complaining about this. After receiving thousands of letters from angry mothers, Congress did not renew year-round Daylight Saving Time, and this plan expired on 1975 February 23.

Now several states, including the nation's largest, California, have proposed ending Daylight Saving Time altogether. And, there are even some states such as Alaska and some New England states which wish to join a different time zone, along with eliminating Daylight Saving Time.

California State Assembly member Kansen Chu (D-San Jose) has introduced a bill which would allow the state's voters to decide whether to continue the twice-a-year changing of the clocks, or to switch to either Standard Time or Daylight Saving Time year-round.

Other states considering similar measures include Florida, Kansas, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Texas also considered such a change recently, but has decided not to proceed with a change at this time.

Several New England states are considering seceding from the Eastern Time Zone to the Atlantic Time Zone, which is currently used by most of the Maritime Provinces of Canada as well as the American Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. By moving to the Atlantic Time Zone, these states would be observing the equivalent of Eastern Daylight Saving Time year-round.

Connecticut, which is home to a lot of people who commute each weekday to New York City, would probably stay in the Eastern Time Zone along with New York State.

And, Alaska is considering moving to the Pacific Time Zone, abandoning its own Alaska Time Zone. As in New England, this would have the effect of having Alaska Daylight Saving Time year-round in Alaska. Of course the Alaska Time Zone would remain, as one of the world's 24 time zones, but it is unclear what it would be called if Alaska moved to the Pacific Time Zone.

Boston Globe columnist Tom Emswiler first proposed the New England time zone switch last Autumn. Since then, Massachusetts State Senator John Keenan (D-Quincy) and Rhode Island State Representative Blake Filippi (I-Block Island) have sponsored bills in their respective legislative chambers to move their state to the Atlantic Time Zone.

An Internet web site < > and companion Twitter campaign has recently started to lobby for an end to Daylight Saving Time.

Many of the advocates of ending Daylight Saving Time cite several studies that show that advancing the clock adversely affects people's health, including more heart attacks, traffic accidents, and workplace injuries. Economists say that there is no real economic reason for Daylight Saving Time, save for the possible reduction in energy usage; although, they say this reduction is not definitive. If the energy savings caused by Daylight Saving Time was significant in past decades, they say that the advancement of technology and the change in lifestyle habits negates most such energy savings today.

Abandonment of Daylight Saving Time, and particularly changing time zones, by several states will have an affect on national transportation and communication networks. Amtrak rail, Greyhound bus, and airline schedules will have to be changed and adapted in the states where such changes take place. National radio and television network schedules may have to be adapted, otherwise New England may receive programs an hour later than their normal Eastern Time Zone broadcast.

Federal law does allow states to exempt themselves from Daylight Saving Time, as Hawaii and Arizona already do. Changing time zones is another matter. Approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation or the Congress would be required if a state wished to change time zones.

Some economists doubt Daylight Saving Time will ever be completely eliminated, due to the influence of special interests (particularly the travel, transportation, and communication industries) as well as Americans favoring long, sunny Summer nights. However, there is no doubt the debate regarding Daylight Saving Time will continue.

More on Robert Garland and the establishment of Daylight Saving Time:
Link 1 >>>
Link 2 >>>

More on the Uniform Time Act of 1966: Link >>>

More on Daylight Saving Time: Link >>>

More on Samuel Pierpont Langley: Link >>>

More on Pittsburgh's Allegheny Observatory:
Link >>>

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
              2016 March 13.

                                                               Historic 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.
        2016: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Observatory
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