Nevadans have once again gone through the futile and counterproductive ordeal of resetting all our clocks to comply with the dictates of our elected naifs in Washington.
We are now temporarily on Pacific Daylight Saving Time, despite the fact our Carson City lawmakers nearly a year ago passed Assembly Joint Resolution No. 4 that proposes to make Pacific Daylight Saving Time year-round.
“WHEREAS, Congress also found and declared that ‘the use of year-round daylight saving time could have other beneficial effects on the public interest, including the reduction of crime, improved traffic safety, more daylight outdoor playtime for children and youth of our Nation, [and] greater utilization of parks and recreation areas …’” AJR4 reads in part. It then asks Congress to allow the states “the option of establishing daylight saving time as the standard time in their respective states throughout the calendar year …”
It passed both the Assembly and Senate and was enrolled by the Secretary of State, and since has been greeted in Washington by our own delegation with the chirps of crickets.
Moving the clock forward in summer might save a few kilowatt-hours in electrical lighting. In fact, a report to Congress, after it moved the start of daylight saving time a month earlier to the second Sunday in March, found that nationwide in 2007 there was a savings in electricity of only 0.03 percent.
Though it might save a few pennies in power, this is offset by other factors. One study found that springing forward causes enough sleep deprivation to cost the U.S. economy $435 million a year. The New England Journal of Medicine found an association between that one hour loss of sleep from daylight saving time and an increase in car accidents, as well as a 5 percent increase in heart attacks in the first three weekdays after the transition to daylight saving time.
Ironically, the whole daylight saving time concept appears to have originated with a satirical essay by Ben Franklin, while he was serving as ambassador in France. According to his tongue-in-cheek account, he came up with the concept when he mistakenly arose one day at 6 a.m. instead of noon and discovered the sun was shining through his window. “I love economy exceedingly,” he jested, and proceeded to explain in a letter to a local newspaper how many candles and how much lamp oil could be saved by adjusting the city’s lifestyle to the proclivities of the sun.
Franklin observed: “This event has given rise in my mind to several serious and important reflections. I considered that, if I had not been awakened so early in the morning, I should have slept six hours longer by the light of the sun, and in exchange have lived six hours the following night by candle-light; and, the latter being a much more expensive light than the former, my love of economy induced me to muster up what little arithmetic I was master of, and to make some calculations, which I shall give you ….”
Then he did the math, and exclaimed, “An immense sum! that the city of Paris might save every year, by the economy of using sunshine instead of candles.”
In 1918 in a effort to be more economical during the war, Congress borrowed from Europe the concept of daylight saving time. Shortly after Pearl Harbor until the end of the Second World War, the nation was on year-round daylight saving time, or war time, as it was called.
Congress passed the Uniform Time Act in 1966 and has amended it several times, though we fail to find this enumerated power in our copy of the Constitution. Only Arizona and Hawaii have been allowed to opt out by sticking with standard time.
Steve Calandrillo, a professor of law at the University of Washington, argues that hundreds of lives would be saved if we went to year-round DST. “Darkness in the evening hours is much more deadly than in the morning hours — there are more drivers on the road and more children playing outdoors,” he reasons.
Washington should allow Nevada this one little boon to set its clocks as Nevadans see fit.
A version of this editorial appeared this past week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel, Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record. It ran as a column in the Elko Daily Free Press.