It’s been over ten days since the switch from Daylight Saving Time (Please note: saving is singular, not plural) to Standard Time in most of the U.S., which might be a little late to be blogging about it, but a couple of comments passing through my social media streams compelled me to broach the topic.
I didn’t think to screenshot or bookmark either comment, so I’m paraphrasing from memory. First: "Rather than arguing about whether it would be better to have an hour of daytime before work or an hour after, shouldn’t we be asking why the workday is so long that it covers all the daylight hours in winter?" Second: "We have to get Congress to allow all states to stay on Daylight Saving Time year round! It is unacceptable to have sundown at 5:30 in the winter!"
I’ll respond to the second one before moving to the next: The sun is still up after 5pm where you are in the winter? LUXURY! The day I finished this blog post, November 17, sundown in the Seattle area was at 4:29pm. And it’s just going to keep getting earlier for the next month!
Sunrise on the same day was at 7:19am, so there were potentially 9 hours of daylight. I say potentially for a couple of reasons, one is that November is one of the wettest months of the year in our region, and so many of our days are overcast during that time. But also, it gets noticeably dark outside well before the sun fully dips below the horizon. Even with all of the blinds open, I have to start turning lights on inside the house shortly after 3 during November.
To be fair, the sky starts to light up in the mornings shortly before the sun starts to appear above the horizon. If you’re willing to count that as some of the daylight, on many days it would make up for the early gloom that happens as the sun gets close to the horizon in the afternoon.
When I’ve mentioned online how early sunset is here, I have been met with disbelief. And I get where the second post mentioned above is coming from. The same day that Seattle’s sunset was 4:29pm, Los Angeles’ sunset was at 4:47pm, while Houston’s sunset was at 5:24pm. Latitude (how far you are from the equator) makes a big difference in this!
The shortest day in the year at our latitude is about 8 hours and 26 minutes. Again, that’s counting from sunrise to sunset. so in theory, if you are only working an 8 hour day, technically there would be 20-some minutes when you aren’t at work and could see a bit of daylight.
Now if the person arguing about working hours is suggesting a workday of only 6 hours, that’s great. There’s actually a lot of research out their indicating that workers would be more efficient during such shorter work shifts. Right now, it’s difficult enough to get a job where you aren’t being forced one way or another to work well more than 8 hours a day, so I’m not sure how that would work out.
None of this is to imply that I don’t agree that we should advocate for better work conditions or that we need to abolish this abominable practice of jiggering the clocks twice a year. I am all for getting rid of the switch from Standard Time to so-called Daylight Saving Time. Which to be consistent and accurate should actually be called Non-standard Time. We’re not actually getting any more daylight hours during DST, we’re just cutting off the bottom of the blanket and sewing it to the top and pretending that there is more blanket.
We know that both the switch form ST and DST and from DST back to ST is associated with an increase in automobile accidents, certain kinds of sometimes fatal health issues, and temporary decreases in productivity. So we should stop doing it.
But you’re not going to win me over if you center your argument on how much daylight we get when. For one thing, it is just inverse of the same flawed argument used to justify DST in the first place. And for another, I’m one of the freaks who really likes the dark more than bright and sunny times. I love rainy and overcast days. I don’t mind the nighttime.
Which is part of the reason that from the beginning of Autumn through the Winter Holidays is, for me, truly the most wonderful time of the year.