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Aug. 16, 2022

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In Our View: A Timely Proposal

Eliminating daylight saving time should be done nationally, not state by state

The Columbian
Published:

Considering that the notion of time is a wholly man-made and somewhat nebulous creation, some Washington lawmakers might be onto something.

Rep. Elizabeth Scott, R-Monroe, has a proposal (House Bill 1479) that would eliminate daylight saving time in the state. You know, that thing that has us springing forward and falling back, then spending a day or two adjusting our internal clocks. “The idea was brought to me by some constituents who asked why are we still doing this, it’s so annoying,” Scott said.

Why, indeed? Why do people in Washington, and most of the country for that matter, change their clocks twice a year — ahead one hour in the spring and back one hour in the fall? Well, the idea apparently was the brainchild of New Zealander George Vernon Hudson, who was an entomologist and astronomer — two professions we would have guessed were mutually exclusive. Hudson came up with a plan to extend daylight hours in the summer to help facilitate after-work activities. The United States adopted daylight saving during World War I, apparently in an effort to conserve energy by reducing the use of artificial lighting. The idea was then scuttled until World War II, when it again was adopted nationally.

Now, the need for adjusting clocks in an effort to conserve energy would be unnecessary if we all would heed the wisdom of noted philosopher Benjamin Franklin, who said, “Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” Or even the wisdom of noted philosopher Mick Jagger, who sang, “Time Is On My Side,” “Time Waits For No One,” “The Last Time” and “Out of Time” — obviously qualifying as an expert on the subject. But, alas, we find ourselves flipping the clocks back and forth and being an hour late for church one Sunday a year.

All of which points out the unusual nature of time itself. According to Wikipedia, that bastion of academic scholarship, “Time has long been a major subject of study in religion, philosophy, and science, but defining it in a manner applicable to all fields without circularity has consistently eluded scholars.”

For example, why in the world are there 24 hours in a day? Would not 10 or 20 or 25 hours make more sense? “Our 24-hour day comes from the ancient Egyptians, who divided daytime into 10 hours they measured with devices such as shadow clocks, and added a twilight hour at the beginning and another one at the end of the daytime,” said Dr. Nick Lomb, consultant curator of astronomy from the Sydney Observatory. “Night time was divided in 12 hours, based on the observations of the stars.” We aren’t sure that answers the question, but it makes us happy we didn’t ask why there are 3,600 seconds in an hour.

Humans, apparently, have wrestled with the concept of time since the beginning of civilization, and now we are slaves to it. Our work, our entertainment, our schooling, and our dentist appointments are dependent upon being able to read a clock.

Anyway, Scott might have struck a chord with her proposal to have Washington on standard time, er, um, around the clock. Arizona and Hawaii already ignore daylight saving time, meaning that for half the year the time of day is the same in Seattle as it is in Phoenix. On the other hand, for those of us in Southwest Washington, it would be awkward to spend part of the year in a different time zone as Portland. So, how about this: Instead of messing around with changing the clock twice a year, let’s push for a national standard of making it daylight saving time year-round. Then we’ll really be onto something.

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