in Culture, Workplace

daylight savings time disasters averted… was there any real danger?

As most North Americans know, Daylight Saving Time came earlier this year due to the changes introduced by the US Energy Policy Act of 2005. My colleague Gabriel and I have probably cumulatively spent 80-100 hours on patching CBC.ca systems to handle this change, and so far (keep your fingers crossed!) nobody’s noticed a thing.

My personal view of DST, however, is that the whole thing is folly; and furthermore, attempts to justify the DST change as an energy conservation measure are ludicrous. In fact, you can listen to an interview right on CBC Radio’s The Current with Prof. Ryan Kellogg of the University of California at Berkeley, who’s done a study stating exactly that.

It doesn’t really take a university professor to understand why. If the Bush administration’s argument is that energy will be conserved by people having more light in the evenings, then this conservation will be exactly negated by people having to get up in the dark and consuming electricity while going about their morning tasks! On this basis, Daylight Saving Time is completely useless from an energy conservation standpoint.

In fact, one could argue that Daylight Saving Time is totally worthless, period, and I think you’d be right. Farming is often used to justify DST, but many farmers (particularly those in Saskatchewan, which does not even observe DST) oppose it; they maximize their workday by commencing work when it’s light enough out and stopping when it gets dark, irrespective of what the clock hands say.

I have a (tongue-in-cheek) theory as to the perpetuation of Daylight Saving Time, and in particular, the Energy Act change: enriching the wallets of systems administrators and IT consultants. On that basis, I’m happy to applaud the Bush administration; as far as I’m concerned, Bush should change the start and end dates of DST every year, so that I can rack up even more overtime applying tzdata patches. Oh wait, what’s that… you want me to run the systems on UTC? Doh!