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Simply Scientific: Daylight Savings

by Jad Abukasm November 12, 2019
Simply Scientific: Daylight Savings

While we did enjoy an extra hour of sleep last week, daylight saving may have become an old useless practice.

In 1895, New Zealander George Hudson introduced the concept of “daylight saving” as a way to enjoy more after-work sunlight to catch more bugs. Yup! To catch more bugs, as Hudson was an entomologist. This would allow him to significantly expand his bug collection.

However, it was only in 1916 that Germany became the first country to put it into practice, but with different intentions than catching beetles and butterflies. Daylight saving was actually enacted to save precious coal energy to fuel World War I. Since coal was the primary source of energy, Germany really made big savings. The thinking behind the decision was that people staying outside longer would reduce their artificial light consumption, which it did!

Fast forward a century later, in an era where electricity is king and research has shown that daylight saving is no longer effective. Brian Handwork reported in National Geographic that the method may have become obsolete since it has no effect on energy savings anymore because of the alternative lighting methods we are using.

In fact, it might be dangerous for our health. The same article quotes a study by the University of Alabama in Birmingham that showed an increase of heart attacks and suicide rates during the Monday and Tuesday after moving the clocks an hour forward in spring. While the causes are still unknown, researchers think it is an amalgam of the body’s adaptation to that change.

It turns out that as much as I tried finding compelling pro daylight saving arguments, there are none to be found except one. The further we move away from the equator, the more seasonal changes in daylight affects a region. This is due to the tilted axis of the Earth. In Winter, northern countries will have less light. Changing the hour would be an advantage for those regions since they would enjoy slightly more daylight.

Overall, daylight saving has become obsolete and brings more trouble than advantages. Although I only stated two downfalls, a quick Google search shows thousands of articles bashing the method, and honestly, it is worth giving it a look! But for now, the only thing we could have done was to enjoy our extra hour of sleep last week.


Graphic by @sundaeghost

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