It happens again Sunday. It is the semi-annual ritual of changing clocks throughout the house, office or factory. Its purpose? Basically, it is justification for what has become no more than a seasonal tradition, and for most people an irritant. Daylight savings time ends for another season, and there is probably a reason you remember it always being in existence, at least in North America and Europe.
The first modern initialization of daylight savings time came in the 19th century with the advent of shift work during the industrial revolution. Keep in mind that many factories of the day were illuminated by energy-saving skylights and windows.
As World War I raged, the idea of using daylight savings time was intended to reduce the use of coal in homes and factories.
The 20th century progressed and shifting clocks to create one more hour of sunlight during summer month evenings was marketed as a way to offer more outdoor leisure time.
The energy crisis of the 1970s promoted daylight savings as a way to conserve energy. However, a 1976 National Bureau of Standards study showed that an hour change backward and forward offered no significant reduction in the use of electricity.
Many people claimed the change in time was to benefit farmers needing an extra hour of sunlight. However anyone who has ever been around an agricultural environment knows that work begins before sunrise and generally ends after sundown, regardless what the hands on a clock might read.
In the Tri-parish region, we know that fishermen leave the marinas around 4 a.m., oil rig workers conduct their jobs in terms of weeks rather than hours, and Louisiana sugar cane farmers operate on basically the same daily timeline as corn growers in Iowa.
In case someone has not noticed, work and leisure have changed during the past 100 years. Big cities and small towns now operate on a 24-hour cycle, but the earth revolves at the same rate regardless of what people do.
It seems that in the contemporary world the only ones that benefit from daylight savings time are those that intend to sleep an extra hour when morning light is available, only to see sunlight later at night, just like everyone else.
If nutritionists can develop a way for me to get my daily health requirement of fiber in a candy bar-like product I am willing to eat, surely society has evolved to the point that someone can figure out what time it is and leave it there.
Until elected representatives adopt a bill that puts an official end to daylight savings time, most of us will continue to lose one hour of sleep in the spring only to artificially regain it during one night in autumn.
In the meantime we continue to change the settings as if it is a holiday occasion. Oh yes, this time you turn clocks back one hour. You know the procedure.