Time travel

March 11, 2007

Good morning. Do you know what time it is? Maybe later than you think - but only by an hour.

And right on schedule to witness the meager impact of the only cost-saving and conservation measure of the Energy Policy Act of 2005: an extra month of daylight-saving time, beginning today when the nation springs forward three weeks earlier than usual.

The energy savings from briefly postponing the dusk, when lights must be switched on, is not expected to be much; so said Canadians when most of their provinces decided to adopt the U.S. policy primarily to simplify Northern Hemisphere transactions.

In fact, this experiment is just the latest in more than a century of attempts to manipulate the sun for the benefit of human convenience that continually prove man has little control in the matter.

All on its own, the sun stays up about six hours longer in the summer than in the winter, so it makes sense to adjust clocks during the spring and fall interim to match waking hours as closely as possible to daylight. Alas, this is but modest tweaking.

Try as they might, politicians can't make the sunlight last longer. Sun on the drive home for the next few weeks means getting up in the dark and schoolchildren waiting for the bus in the gray dawn mist.

But here's a better idea for the transition period of three weeks in the spring and one week in the fall: Shorten work and school days by an hour! Everyone but night-shifters could get up after the sun and still have time at the end of the day when no power-hogging lights are needed.

What's not to like? Sure, there would be some loss of productivity, some falling behind in class. But with spring about to inspire its usual besottedness anyway, maybe no one would notice.

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