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PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE: DAYLIGHT 'SAVING' SQUANDERS HOUR OF SLEEP.

Byline: Kimit A. Muston

I think there is a basic rule in life that when something seems to serve no purpose except to annoy me and make my life more difficult, some expert is going to insist it is good for me. The topic today is daylight-saving time.

Today, we go through it again: spring forward, fall back.

Through the rest of April, while I struggle to reset my biological clock and stop bumping into walls and chairs in a sleep-deprived haze, there will be experts explaining why all this pain and bruising is good for me. Bah, I say. Bah.

I can't figure out why we do this to ourselves twice a year. I suspect daylight-saving time was just a fraternity prank by a bunch of time scientists that went terribly wrong. Or maybe there was a secret cabal of mental health professionals who thought they were going to get rich off the poor souls driven insane while trying to reset their digital clocks.

Anyway you look at it, daylight-saving time doesn't make any sense.

It isn't as if daylight saving was some kind of ancient calendar device. The Germans first switched to daylight-saving time in 1916, during World War I. They lost that war. And the next one.

The United States has only had standardized daylight-saving since 1966, when Congress passed the Uniform Time Act. It might have been suggested then that it would have been more uniform to pick a time and stick with it, rather than make people dust off their clocks every six months, but for some reason nobody brought that up at the time.

Most people think we move the clocks around to benefit the farmers, which is just silly on the face of it. Farmers are about the only people who do not punch a time clock. If the sun is up, farmers are working. If it's down, they're not. And it will stay that way until somebody can clone a cow that won't give milk until 9 and stops at 5.

The actual justification for this twice-a-year education in clock adjustment is that it saves energy. According to the Department of Energy, which should know about such things, moving the clocks ahead by one hour for six months saves almost 1 percent of our average national daily energy usage.

Now, I don't know about you, but the pain of forcing myself out of bed an hour early is not worth a lousy savings of less than 1 percent in energy to me. Work it up to 5 percent and we can talk. But for 1 percent, I'd rather sleep in.

The other rationale for daylight-saving is that the extra hour of sunlight in the evening makes it safer for motorists and pedestrians coming home. But what about going to work? I don't see how driving in the dark just after you wake up can be safe. Stanley Coren of the University of British Columbia found an 8 percent rise in morning traffic accidents the Monday after the April time shift.

And aren't the morning roads jammed with school buses? Why are we subjecting our children to this ritual of the hours?

If saving daylight is such a wonderful energy saver, let's just get rid of clocks altogether and go back to sundials. I'm sure Microsoft could design an electronic unit that would track the hourly progression of the seasons even on cloudy days, so that we could all wake up and get to work together even as the starting time changes along with our tilt toward the sun. And if Microsoft makes it, you can be darn sure everybody will have to buy it.
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Title Annotation:Viewpoint
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 2, 2000
Words:612
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