By Joe Miller, McClatchy Newspapers
After years of trying, it took an act of Congress — literally — to extend daylight-saving time. In March, we set the clocks ahead an hour, and the first Sunday in November we’ll set them back an hour. The change has given us an additional four weeks of evening daylight: three weeks in the spring, one in the fall.
When the United States and most European countries first went to daylight-saving time in World War I, it was to conserve fuel for the war effort. Because this was still a largely agrarian society and folks woke early on farms, the time change was highly unpopular and was repealed shortly after the war ended, in 1919. Only the next global conflict, World War II, could revive it; President Franklin D. Roosevelt brought back “War Time” in 1942.
The rationale for today’s change is basically the same: to save energy by“creating” more end-of-day daylight. This time, though, it’s to conserve fuel in light of dwindling supplies.
WHEN DAYLIGHT-SAVING TIME ENDS When the sun officially rises at what will seem like 7:15 a.m., it will actually be 6:15 a.m. Likewise, in the afternoon when the sun is setting at what may feel like 6:30 p.m., it will actually be 5:30 p.m.
A GOOD TIME TO BE SAFE The switch from daylight-saving time is also a good time to make sure your homesmoke alarms are working. So, when you set your clock back, change the batteries in your smoke alarms.
DID YOU KNOW?
-It’s daylight-saving time, not daylight savings time.
-A U.S. Department of Transportation study found that daylight-saving time cuts electricity usage nationwide by about 1 per-cent a day.
-About 70 countries worldwide observe daylight-saving time. The only major industri-alized nations that don’t: Japan, India andChina.
-For a time, beginning in 1965, St. Paul, Minn., observed daylight-saving time while its twin city across the Mississippi River, Minneapolis, did not.
-Before a uniform daylight-saving time was declared in 1966, states and cities could control when they observed the change. One year, Iowans observed 23 different pairs of start and end times. For five weeks each year Boston, New York and Philadelphia were on different times than Washington, D.C.; Cleveland or Baltimore.
-In the United States, lawmakers chose 2 a.m. for the time change because it was the least disruptive time of day. It’s late enough to not greatly affect bars and restaurants, but it’s before early shift workers and churchgoers begin their days.
-Data shows violent crime is down 10percent to 13 percent during daylight-saving time than standard times, according to a study from the U.S. Law Enforcement Assistance Administration.
-Daylight-saving time is not observed in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, PuertoRico, the Virgin Islands and Arizona (except Arizona’s Navajo Nation, which does observe the time change).
-In the European Union, daylight-saving time (or “Summer Time” as it is called) occurs at 1 a.m. on the last Sunday in March and the last Sunday in October.
-With daylight-saving time now taking place after Halloween, trick-or-treaters will have extra light for safer traveling.
-Many countries in the tropics and closer to the equator do not observe daylight-saving time because their amount of seasonal sunlight does not vary that much.
A SHORT HISTORY
1784: Ben Franklin floats idea of daylight-saving time during his time in Paris.
1907: London builder William Willett is the first to seriously push the concept in a pamphlet titled “The Waste of Daylight.” His plan: Advance clocks by 20 minutes each Sunday in April, roll them back by 20 minutes each Sunday in September.
1916: To conserve fuel during World War I, Germany and Austria become the first nations to adopt daylight-saving time.
1918: The United States gets daylight time fever. Congress approves the measure on March19; it goes into effect 12 days later, on the 31st.
1919: Still a largely agrarian society of early risers, the United States dumps daylight time shortly after World War I ends.
1942: President Franklin Roosevelt revives “War Time” at the start of World War II.
1945: War ends, so does War Time. The option of keeping daylight time is left open to local jurisdictions. This creates a hodge-podge of time zones; according to the Web site WebExhibits.org, at one point the 35-mile drive between Moundsville, W.Va., and Steubenville,Ohio, required seven time changes.
1966: Congress creates a uniform — more or less — daylight time for the United States. States are given the choice of opting out.
1974: In response to Arab oil embargo and resulting fuel crisis, the daylight-saving time Energy Act is passed, pumping clocks ahead by an hour for a 15-month period running from Jan. 6 to April 27, 1975.
1986: Law is passed to begin daylight-saving time at 2 a.m. the first Sunday of April and end it at 2 a.m. the last Sunday of October.
2005: Energy Policy Act of 2005 extends daylight-saving time by four weeks beginning in 2007.
March 11, 2007: New, extended daylight-saving timegoes into effect at 2 a.m.—
— Sally Dadisman of McClatchy-Tribune contributed to this report.SOURCES: WEBEXHIBITS.ORG/DAYLIGHTSAVING/G.HTML; THE CALIFORNIA ENERGY COMMISSION,WWW.ENERGY.CA.GOV/DAYLIGHTSAVING.HTML;THE POST (ATHENS, OHIO)