Why do the clocks change?

At 2am tomorrow morning, Daylight Savings Time comes to an end as the country switches back to Greenwich Mean Time for the winter.

This means clocks, smartphones, computers and many other devices will move back an hour for the next five months.

But why do we do this every year, when did it start and what effect does it have?

What is Daylight Savings Time?

Daylight Savings Time or DST is the practice of advancing clocks forward in the summer to provide extra sunlight in the evening. Countries that adopt DST move their clocks forward at the start of spring and move them back as winter approaches.

Although the idea first came about in 1784 by American politician Benjamin Franklin, it wasn’t until the 20th century before the first country adopted DST. Germany and Austria-Hungary, both in the midst of the First World War and wanting to save coal, adopted DST in April 1916 and other nations also at war followed suit in the following years.

Some countries abandoned the practice after the war came to an end, but it was adopted again during the Second World War and the 1970s energy crisis.

Currently, 70 countries use daylight savings in at least part of the country, including most of Europe, New Zealand, Chile and the United States (except for Hawaii and Arizona). Most countries near the equator do not follow DST, as sunrise times at different parts of the year do not vary sufficiently enough to need it.

Does it have any effect now?

Those in favour of DST claim that it saves energy and promotes outdoor activity in the evenings, but opponents argue that changing the clocks disrupts morning activities and increases sleep deprivation. In addition, they claim that any energy saved by DST is negligible due to the use of air conditioning in the summer and increased electricity consumption in the winter.

As well as this, countries that do follow DST do not all change their clocks at the same time, resulting in confusion for workers when arranging calls and meetings across countries and continents.

DST remains a controversial issue, with debates every March and October about whether it should be scrapped altogether.

Its future in the European Union could soon be coming to an end after the European Parliament voted to end Daylight Savings Time in the 27-member bloc. Should the move be approved by the Council of Ministers, EU citizens will move their clocks forward for the last time in March 2021.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s