It’s about time

Time we gave up on daylight savings time, that is.

The story goes that Benjamin Franklin first suggested Daylight Savings Time in 1784 when he was the American envoy to France.

The French could save money on candles, he suggested in an anonymous, satirical letter, by waking earlier to use morning sunlight. He also proposed taxing window shutters and firing cannons at sunrise.

Who would have thought that anyone would take him seriously? But in the 1910s, that’s exactly what happened, and the idea of turning the clocks ahead in the spring and back to normal in the winter started spreading.

The rationale is often given as adding an extra hour of sunlight for farmers to work in their fields in what was then still a largely agriculture North America. But if you’re working rising with the sun, as farmers tend to do, does it really matter what time you call it?

Large factory farms now work with giant combines and other equipment that boasts light arrays that could illuminate the Super Bowl. Barns have long since been wired for lights, along with heat, sound systems and amenities those early farmers could hardly have dreamed of.

And even any local hobby farmer who has to go off to a “regular” job knows you get up to feed the livestock or collect the eggs at roughly the same time regardless of the season. Which means working in the dark in winter and in the daylight in the summer.

Saving electricity is another line of reasoning, but which costs more, a light or an air conditioner?

We do have to agree on what time it is, otherwise we’d never be able to catch a bus. But there is no requirement that we use DST. Nor is it universal: the Peace River District, Fort Nelson and Creston all ignore daylight savings time, along with many other places across Canada and around the world.

Linda Larson, MP for Boundary-Similkameen, is introducing a bill to the B.C. Legislature that would see the province give up fooling with the clocks, and our sleep patterns, each spring and fall. The proposition has failed before, and it will probably fail this time, but it’s about time we moved on from this antiquated idea. Even if DST was once effective — and that has been questioned for years — it has lost that relevance in our modern, automated 24/7 society.

Will it put us out of sync with our neighbours? Sure, but it won’t be hard to adjust. And once we do, the idea is going to spread.

Someone just needs to take the first step.

— Black Press

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