Not The Target Market

Here We Go Again

cows-curious-cattle-agricultureThe great energy-saving time switch, brought to you by your government, is scheduled to happen tonight. In the autumn, the change isn’t so hard on the humans – we all gain an extra hour of sleep; but it is murder on the clocks and the cows.

In the fall, clocks can’t go backward. They need to be wound through a complete cycle – annoying whether you are dealing with analog or digital. (Of course, if you are really cool, you have only digital clocks programmed to set themselves whenever the time changes, or whenever there is a power outage. I am not that cool.)

In the spring, it’s the opposite:  the one hour advance is easy on the clocks, but murder on the poor humans who suddenly lose that hour of sleep. Literal murder, as there is a well-documented spike in both heart attacks and car accidents during the following week.

Whether spring or fall, it is always murder on the cows (and the farmers who milk them) as the cows don’t know about government policy and wouldn’t care if they did. They can’t flip a switch and suddenly shift their milk production by an hour to meet market time obligations, so everyone on the farm suffers.

The original reason for the daylight savings switch was to save energy. A number of studies (here and here for example) have proven it doesn’t.

And frankly, in this day when people are given the privilege of working around the clock because of their access to electricity, why should it?

If you lump gasoline use with energy consumption, people actually use more energy during daylight saving time. The extra daylight at the end of the day beckons people out of the house and they head to the mall, to a restaurant, to a sports game or to the golf course. And they don’t walk; they drive.

One conclusion from this is that while it’s a washout on energy, it is good for the economy. Unless you are part of the entertainment industry. Daylight saving time puts a crimp in those particular profits because, it stands to reason, if people are out of the house during the extra evening day light hours, they can’t be home watching TV.

In one highly unscientific poll, the majority of respondents appeared to be of the “this is ridiculous/stop changing times/pick a time and stay with it” opinion, with the minority saying “daylight savings is wonderful/keep it.” A sprinkling of people didn’t come down directly for either side, but said that people who like daylight saving time are lazy and don’t want to get up in the morning. Presumably one could assume they are for a constant standard time.

A National Geographic poll gives the split at almost 50% against changing clocks; about 33% for.

My own opinion is that this twice yearly ritual of clock changing, like many government policies, has become ossified as holy writ. It doesn’t appear to address the stated problem (saving energy), while at the same time, it introduces a boatload of unintended consequences in the shape of more traffic accidents; more heart attacks; tired, cranky people; confusion; hardship for farmers and disgruntled cows. Personally, I am all for giving the tried, cranky people (and cows), a break.

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