Daylight saving by any means

Late tonight (aka Sunday morning) is the start of the deep blue funk.  Clocks are set back one hour at two a.m.  Soon sunset will be a little after four o’clock. (In Maine, it’s before four p.m.) Vitamin D will only come in bottles from CVS. People start lusting after mac and cheese, custard  and other comfort foods.  It’s hard to get warm. Like Smokey, Winnie, Yogi and the other bears, we lug our quilts and head for the cave.

But wait!  A Massachusetts legislative commission headed by Senator Eileen Donoghue reports that a solution lies in moving to year-round Atlantic Standard Time, the time zone to our east. Though federal law specifically bans staying on Daylight Saving year-round, moving to the Atlantic  Zone would have the same effect.  New Mexico, for example, would have to move from Central Time to Mountain Time to get more sunshine year-round. By contrast, the state of Nevada is urging Congress to allow states simply to pass year-round Daylight Saving Time.

Back in the ’90’s, the Atlantic Rim Network urged that Massachusetts and New England move to Atlantic Time for competitive advantage, making Boston the capital of the Atlantic Rim. Congressman Ed Markey started nibbling at the problem years ago when he got Daylight Saving extended at both ends, spring and fall, now starting the second Sunday in March and ending the first Sunday in November.  One of Markey’s original arguments was that, given fuel costs, providing an extra hour of daylight would save on energy costs.

Today, there are all sorts of arguments, some more credible than others, for making the adjustment apply year-round.  They are economic: retailers would benefit from the additional hour of daylight. There are studies that measure the impact on crime, which reportedly would go down by depriving thieves of the cover of that extra hour of darkness.  Research is also related to health: there would be an extra hour after work for outdoor running and fewer heart attacks, which are said to increase in the transitional period after clocks are set back.  All of these pale in comparison to the impact on mental health, optimism and sense of well-being, from the reduction of seasonal affective disorder.

Here’s what the opponents say.  Kids would have to walk to school in darkness.  Around here, parents and educators have been lobbying for years for later start times and citing the positive public health impact of having them more awake before lessons start. The financial markets would be disrupted. Nonsense. Those markets are 24-hour global, and traders already get into the office – or work early from home – on staggered times. Television broadcast schedules would be disrupted. Again, nonsense. We’ll still find This is Us, and, when it comes to “live” news programs, stations have long received “feeds” from the networks an hour before air time.

Atlantic Time already includes eastern Canada, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and several South American countries. Should Massachusetts once again among continental entities be “the one and only?” We often take pride in that.  This time around (pun intended), we should probably make the change in concert with other New England states.  New Hampshire and Maine are already looking to coordinate with Massachusetts. We should invite New York to join us, but not wait for them. Florida, too, has proposed a “Sunshine Protection Act.”  Doesn’t that already make you feel better?

Meanwhile, the sun will set tomorrow at 4:33 p.m. and earlier and earlier until December. We’ll still be depressed until the return of Daylight Saving Time in March. I’ll dutifully set back the clocks tonight and medicate myself with left-over Halloween candy.  But, c’mon folks, let’s get with the movement and push for Atlantic Standard Time so we don’t have to go through this in 2019 or beyond.

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8 thoughts on “Daylight saving by any means

  1. Arthur Singer

    I think I am too old to get into the fray here. If I’ve lived this long Daylight Savings Time, I say to myself, why mess with this notion — thought it is an intriguing one. Art Singer


  2. Hopkins Holmberg

    Yeah, interesting idea. But let’s try to keep the dialogue honest. Going to year-round AST will NOT give us an extra hour of daylight. If you’ve been running in twilight after work, the sunlight will still be there in the morning: out of bed and run before work!
    Given the real amount of sunlight will not change, the claims about saving fuel are suspect.

    The real problem is boundaries. Mass wants the rest of New England to go along. But Connecticut likes to be on New York time (half their folks are fans of the Yankees or the Mets). New York is a big state; it goes all the way to Ohio. And if NY, then NJ. And if NJ then PA!

    This leads to boundary madness. When Minnesota was considering going to DST the compromise was to have DST in the counties containing Minneapolis and St. Paul AND any adjoining counties that chose to be on DST. A month of madness ensued as DST debate spread through the remaining 85 counties until at last the legislature had to make it state wide.


    1. Not talking about manufacturing more daylight, obviously. Just putting it at the other end of the day. (To quote Robert Louis Stevenson, “In winter I get up at night
      And dress by yellow candle-light.
      In summer, quite the other way,
      I have to go to bed by day.”)


  3. Judy Holmberg

    Yes! A very good idea. Meanwhile you can go out during the day and turn your face toward the sun for 10 minutes sans sun screen. They do this in Denmark. Keeps the vit. D going and helps with SADS. Be sure to burn lots of candles to improve atmosphere. I recommend those from TraderJoes which are pure parafin and reasonably priced. One pillar burns smoke free, no dripping, for 80 hours. No, I am not rewardedfor saying this.


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