In Brief — A look at how changing our clocks twice a year hurts not only human health but shows the flawed thinking of business interests and politicians. [Written in October/November 2017.]
Changing Our Clocks Endangers Our Lives —
Spring forward; Fall back. They sound like admonitions for healthy exercise and military retreat, but it’s the way we are trained to remember to set the clocks ahead every spring and set them back again every autumn. Unfortunately, that catchy phrase runs counter to what we know about human health and the way the world runs.
In the 18th century, Ben Franklin joked that setting the clocks ahead each spring was a way to save money on candles. In the 21st century, candles are largely used to set a romantic glow at dinner, but the electric light is dominant in our homes and in the world itself. The fact shown by research is that power is hardly affected by Daylight Savings Time (DST), the bastard child of Franklin’s joke. In short, energy savings is the joke.
These days, the business community pushes DST for a simple reason…money. They tell us that people shop more when it’s light out. They play more golf. They drive more in their gas-guzzling cars. Translated that means your money is more important than your health. Among the many weaknesses with this position are the facts that unhealthy people will die sooner and are unlikely shoppers. Greed trumps health.
Politicians are generally not noted for being aware of much beyond their political survival. In many cases they are downright ignorant. “Research? What research? What do those pointy-headed intellectuals know?” They ask this even as they join the stampede of the political herd eager to do the bidding of the business community that feeds the political coffers. DST is the nirvana of the business community. That’s good enough for the political set.
The Scientific Research —
Scientists show that there are more heart attacks, strokes and other adverse health effects in the two days following a change. There are more accidents, in the home, on the job and on the road. People lacking needed sleep are more confused and many are just plain annoyed by the necessity of changing all those timepieces whether on their wrists, in the car or on the wall. Our circadian rhythms don’t go away because of a political decision.
What about pets and domestic animals? Our much-loved pets are accustomed to being fed at certain times, and any disruption to that schedule affects them as well as the humans with whom they live. I know that our dog’s stomach grumbles at a certain time, and the twice-yearly change doesn’t silence that grumble.
Farmers report that their herds are adversely affected by the disruption in their milking schedules. Remember that the farmer is an affected human, too. As for me personally, I don’t care whether it’s summer’s DST or winter’s standard time, just leave it one or the other. It’s the twice-yearly time change that bugs me. Some states and countries agree that the time change isn’t necessary for them.
What is your view of changing time? Benefits? Detriments?