Monday, March 10, 2008

Reading is Fundamental

In case you missed it, a news report published yesterday confirmed something that every sensible human being has known for years: Daylight Saving Time does not save energy, in spite of the claims to the contrary. You can read the whole story for yourself here in this USA Today article, but it basically boils down to this: they studied energy consumption in Indiana, where vagaries of daylight saving time implementation made such a study feasible, and found that the increased use of energy for heating and air conditioning more than offset any energy saving from reduced lighting cost.

DST is a 19th century concept that survived into the 20th, and now into the 21st; it shouldn't exist at all, since we're now pretty much a 24-hour culture. Nevertheless, last year the reactionaries in Congress went the other way, extending DST by several weeks on the front end and the back end.

When I saw the story, I wrote to my two senators and my representative, asking that they read the article and introduce legislation to abolish this energy-wasting policy. Today, I got a response from one of my senators, Saxby Chambliss, that indicates that the extra daylight has done nothing to help him to read his mail...

"Thank you for writing me about the recent proposal to change Daylight Savings Time (DST). I appreciate hearing from you.

"The U.S. first implemented Daylight Savings Time in 1918 during World War I. It was repealed in 1919 because of its unpopularity and was reinstated by President Roosevelt during World War II, as 'War Time,' in an effort to use less energy. In 1974, President Nixon signed into law the 'Emergency Daylight Savings Time Energy Conservation Act,' and in 1986 Congress amended the Act to begin Daylight Savings Time as we know it today, beginning on the first Sunday in April and the last Sunday in October.

"As you know, Representatives Fred Upton (R-MI) and Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced a proposal in the House of Representatives to extend Daylight Savings Time by two months. Again, this proposal is an effort to conserve energy. The Department of Transportation estimates that the extension would save the equivalent of 10,000 barrels of oil a day. The proposal was adopted as part of H.R. 6, the 'Energy Policy Act of 2005,' which passed the House of Representatives on April 21, 2005."

I wrote back urging him to (a) actually read his mail before sending out foolish replies, and (b) do something forward-thinking and work to rid us of this unnecessary, outmoded, and inefficient system of trying to legislate time.

Let's see if he replies again, or if I get another form response that totally misses the point. (And you gotta wonder if these guys read complex legislation any more accurately than they read mail from a constituent!)


Sven said...

What! the good Senator didn't send you a autographed picture with his canned reply, someone in his office must be tired because of the time change.

Doug said...

It doesn't save energy, but I LOVE DST. Getting home at 5:45 to a sunset during the winter is miserable to me. I got home at the same time today, with plenty of bright sunshine left in the day.

I think DST remains just to make the summer days last a little longer.

Lanny said...

I agree. The entire time-change is outmoded and LONG overdue to be put out to pasture...where they might find someone who actually thinks it's a good idea. Apologies to Doug. :-)