It’s that time of year again! As of Sunday 28 October 2018 (from 2am in the morning), the clocks will go back and we’ll all get an extra hour in bed. If you find yourself in an empty office or workplace, or having taken your kids to school only to discover the classrooms all deserted, then you’ve probably forgotten to change your alarm clock. Go back to bed.

These days most of our timepieces are digital (and they’re usually smart enough to adjust to Daylight Saving Time automatically). However, enough Europeans find the whole business of summer and winter time so annoying that a public consultation by the European Commission back in July received a staggering 4.6 million responses. Almost 85% of respondents said they wanted to scrap Daylight Saving Time entirely.

The original intention of Daylight Saving Time was to save energy and maximise the amount of daylight hours available for work, though there’s little evidence that such savings are at all significant. In fact, sceptics argue that switching between summer and winter time causes unnecessary stress, confusion, and even adverse health effects such as depression and increased risk of traffic accidents. In northern countries, like Finland, the winter months are anyway dark, so little daylight is actually saved. Is it really worth it?

What do our readers think? We had a comment from Charles who thinks abolishing Daylight Saving Time is a bad idea. He doesn’t seem to think it will really deliver much benefit, and thinks the EU should instead focus on much more important matters. Is he right?

To get a response, we put his comment to Miapetra Kumpula-Natri, a social democratic MEP from Finland (the northernmost country in the European Union, so perhaps the country where Daylight Saving Time is least useful). What would she say?

He’s right, there are many other things [for the EU to focus on] as well. But, because we do have [an EU] Directive that coordinates the time when we switch the clocks, we cannot abolish [Daylight Saving Time] without agreeing to it now [at the EU level]. That’s why we need to act at the European level: not to set the date when you have to switch [your clocks], but to set the date when we’re not switching… It is not for the Member States to end [Daylight Saving Time] after the EU started to coordinate it.

To get another reaction, we also put Charles’ comment to Michael Downing, author of the book Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time. What did he think would be the benefits of scrapping Daylight Saving Time?

The tangible benefit of [abolishing Daylight Saving Time] is that clock time has very limited utility, which is basically: predictability and synchronicity. One of the problems with daylight saving, because there has not been an international body governing our use of it, is that clocks around the world are changed on an annual basis by different policies for daylight saving. More than half the countries in the world no longer use it. We’ve really given up the idea of predictability and synchronicity, which was the whole idea of coordinated time – that is, the time zone most countries observe. So, I think that’s the one benefit.

But I think Charles’ question really points to another problem which is that we’ve never had an international body which was responsible for coordinated time. So, federal governments – in this case the EU for Europe – have to step in at some point to try to coordinate the clocks of its member nations.

Next up, we had a comment from Malcolm, who criticises a “one size fits all” approach to things like time zones and daylight saving. Surely every Member State has a different situation, so it would be better if they each decided independently what works best for them?

How would Finnish MEP Miapetra Kumpula-Natri respond?

First of all, Malcolm needs to know that’s it not one ‘one size.’ We do have these geographical differences that mean even I – [someone] who is working for a united Europe on many issues – am not going to say to geography or to the sun when it should come up and down. That’s why I think we also shouldn’t artificially switch the clock, but [rather] adapt slowly for the minutes that the sun is out per day.

But Malcolm must also know that there is not one proposal from the Commission that says which [timezone] to take. If you look at the map: Britain and Spain [should be] in the same zone [but] Spain is now – together with France and Germany – not with the UK. So, after this proposal that we stop switching back and forth, Member States may choose which timezone to take. Yes, there will also be many timezones in Europe also after this, from the Turkish border to Ireland. It would be too much to harmonise [all of Europe within] the same time zone.

How would Michael Downing respond to the same comment?

Well, the premise is absolutely right that the Sun is not evenly distributed across the planet. That’s part of the problem of a global society is that we don’t all live under the same conditions. So the project of uniform time, with the time zones and then daylight saving when we began to try to coordinate our adjustment of those clocks to preserve daylight, was a way of unifying a dis-unified geographic situation. So the premise is correct in the sense of the problem that is created.

But without any coordination of the clocks, letting people set their own times, it becomes impossible to do simple things like predicting what time you will arrive in a particular city because cities within 50 miles of each other may be setting their clocks according to apparent noon, which can be as much as an hour off. This really is a problem of industrialisation and the change that happened in the 20th century when the industrialised world adopted clock time. Once we adopt clock time it’s, itself, an analogue situation. It’s not a natural time. We’re no longer looking up at the Sun and judging our time of day. That’s what creates the need for a unified plan that doesn’t necessarily equally apportion daylight across the planet.

Should we stop Daylight Saving Time? Does it save us energy and lead to greater productivity during daylight hours? Or is it all a waste of time? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: (c) BigStock – ersler


35 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Sixten Balkestahl

    There is not more sun hours in one day (24 hours) if you change the clock it is “geographically” the same in 24 hours it is just a question about when we want to be awake. If you want more or less hours with daylights it is just to wake up earlier or later depending on what you want. I am from Sweden and we have a lot of daylights during summer but not during winter.
    Keep the normal geographically time during all the year and do not try to excuse your late nights with Daylight Saving Time.

  2. avatar
    jthk

    Day Light Saving Time is probably implemented to raise public concern on the energy saving. When energy and environmental issues has top many agenda all over the world, Day Light Saving Time looks more a gesture to arouse public awareness. When energy problem is becoming real and actually causing our health and even life, more aggressive and effective policy to compel saving energy should be considered, while scrapping the old scheme.

  3. avatar
    Michael

    No because we consume more electric power otherwise

  4. avatar
    Stefania

    l’importante è che quell’ora di sole la facciamo all’aria aperta , perchè se stiamo chiusi negli scantinati a lavorare entriamo che fuori è buio , usciamo a buio ….l’ora di sole …stanno meglio i carcerati almeno lo respirano l’ora di sole . L’ora di sole bisogna viverla al sole altrimenti viene la depressione . Si lavora per vivere , non si vive per lavorare

    The important thing is that we have the hour of sunt in the open air, because if we are locked in the basements of work we enter work in the dark, we go out in dark…. the hours of sun… are better in the of sun. The sunny hour must be lived in the sun otherwise comes depression. You work to live, you don’t live to work

  5. avatar
    Marina

    Yes…..better to have light until 6 pm than 5 pm in winter …

    • avatar
      Christophe

      What and daylight begins at 5AM in the Summer and we lose an hour of daylight at night which benefits tourism during the Summer months and is an healthy promoter of good mental health.? The clocks changing needs to continue for that reason. Do you get up at 5AM?

    • avatar
      Marina

      Christophe l don’t need daylight till 10 pm….I personally would prefer an extra hour of light in the winter evening.

    • avatar
      Ian

      I agree. In Spain it’s already dark at 18:30 (with daylight saving), and it’s only going to get darker until December, when night falls around 17:50 and sunrise is around 8:33… In winter, earlier hours are the coldest; people get out more in the afternoon. What use do we have when night falls at 17:45~18? Here, summer time makes more sense in general: in Summer, the blistering, unbearable heat makes it impossible to go out and walk around, for example; so we benefit more from longer hours in the afternoon. Summer time means night doesn’t fall until 21~22 (in summer), when temperatures go down and it’s more pleasant to walk around. In winter, these hours are the warmest…

      Besides, there’s no proven benefit to Daylight Saving. Those of us who already have sleeping problems year around, having to adapt to yet again new hours is excruciating… Research has proven time and again that we benefit more with stable hours, more “rational” timing: going to bed when night has already fallen (who bloody goes to sleep at 18???) and waking up at sunrise (let’s be honest, people start working at 8:30~9, so we’re all waking up still at night). The REAL saving is only done the day the hour is changed, which was on Sunday! The rest of the year, we’re still using the same electricity; we’re turning on lights at 18 and we’re turning them at 8 now, with Winter Time. Where’s the saving??? One hour more in the morning won’t save you the electricity you use one hour less in the afternoon; so globally, you’re not saving anything.

      The lame excuse of some people who say “we’re using less in the morning” don’t realise that we’re actually using that energy in the afternoon, plus warming! I mean… Come on!

      I don’t know how things work in the rest of Europe, but Spanish people are still working at 18… and won’t get out until 20… So we’re still waking up in the dark and leaving work in the dark, and commuting in the dark… And it’s very depressing sometimes.

  6. avatar
    Christophe

    I am really starting to dislike the EU with a passion. There us nothing wrong with the forward and backward movement of Clocks. What next? We will all be made to drive on the Right?

    • avatar
      Jose

      Que all know you cant drive, least on the right

    • avatar
      Miguel

      Christophe this is a variation of the cucumber-size kind of EU politics. The real issues to be adressed are off to public debate, until in the end we are informed about the decisions taken.

    • avatar
      Christophe

      Miguel We need a united Europe against the EU. I am convinced they are a Communist organization. They keep whining about populism.

  7. avatar
    Alex

    Yes. It should be gone, and the sooner – the better.

  8. avatar
    Ele

    Can we have the sun in the morning in the winter please. Getting up in the dark, going to work in the dark is just terrible. I don’t need it to be light until 23:00 in the summer.

  9. avatar
    Alexandra

    Yes. Leave it on „summer time“.

  10. avatar
    Oliver

    Studies have shown that around the time of the shifts, kids are doing worse in schools. It should be stopped

  11. avatar
    Renato

    Yeah like that’s European biggest problem.

  12. avatar
    Drory

    I’d prefer that Daylight Saving Time be practiced all year long.

  13. avatar
    Chris

    Why is this a EU matter? this should be left to member states.

    • avatar
      John

      It’s not. Every member state will have a say on whether they actually implement it or not.

      “The Commission’s proposal requires support from the 28 national governments and MEPs to become law.”

      https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-45366390

    • avatar
      Ian

      Well, currently the EU forces all member states to adhere to Daylight Saving Time. That means that every country has to change twice the time every year; which means we’re all synchronised and it’s business as usual. No major disruptions in timetables, flight schedules, deliveries, automated systems. It all works just the same, one hour more, one hour less.
      The problem with that is… the EU gathers very different countries when it comes to “daylight requirements”. For Finland, for example (a country that voted majority to end daylight saving), this process doesn’t really make a difference. In fact, they’ve argued that it’s rather detrimental. They already have little light year-round to start with, and the mandatory Daylight Saving is just a huge inconvenience.
      On the other side, countries like Spain are in the wrong timezone since WW2, when Francoist Spain changed timezones to ally itself with Berlin and Rome (when we should be in the same timezone as Portugal or the UK).

      It’s an EU matter because each country has to decide if they want to stop Daylight Saving. Countries like Portugal doesn’t want to; the majority here in Spain does. For that, each country has launched their own Commission to study the national effects of stopping this practice, and what measures to take to adapt to a definite hour year-round. The EU Commission has furthermore asked each member state to decide what time (winter, summer) is going to be their definitive, so then the Commission can better manage and coordinate this new “EU time landscape”, with measures for better transition and adaptations for businesses around the EU. That means, changing automated systems, changing flight schedules, manifests, transactions, deliveries…

      That’s why it’s an EU matter. We’re a bloc after all, this “little” thing can have a big effect. So it will take… time.

    • avatar
      Chris

      Dear Ian, you are well informed; thank you. In a sense though you make my point; I live in the Azores which is probably as far away from the north east point of the EU as you can get; to suggest (not that you were, but others must) that different countries having different time zones is a barrier to trade etc is to be honest nonsense; businessmen and women who want to trade will be awake and have offices open when their customers need to speak to/deal with them. It is NOT the function of the EU to tell member states what time they live in. I am a Remainer but this is precisely the sort of autocratic interference by Brussels which is unacceptable .

  14. avatar
    Betty

    I prefer getting up in daylight….not in the dark

  15. avatar
    John

    Yes. Looking forward to it going.

  16. avatar
    Juliette

    Yes! What I find interesting is that the commission decided to appoint an experts …..commission to do a proper “research” prior to reaching a decision!!

  17. avatar
    Rui

    What should we do with migrations. What should we do with Trump. What should be our response to fascist parties. What should we do with Brexit. What Should we do with Mr. Putin. What should we do with Saudi Arabia regime. What shoud EU do with the middle east. What should we do with climate warming. These and other issues are much more concerning than time adjustments.

    • avatar
      John

      That’s a pretty silly argument. Governments can deal with multiple issues at once. Just because you address one area doesn’t mean you have to negate another.

  18. avatar
    Rebecca

    How about keeping summer hours all year? I’d rather have an extra hour of daylight later in the day.

  19. avatar
    catherine benning

    Should we stop Daylight Saving Time?

    There is no such thing as daylight saving time. Manipulating the time piece around the calender does not save or do anything to the daylight. The sun does not change its orbit to suit Western politics.

    However, to plunge the people of the UK into darkness in the middle of the afternoon every year is absolute madness. It may have had a purpose in wartime but now it is a hindrance not a help to anyone.

    Early morning darkness is far easier to cope with than early afternoon when actual living is taking place. Daylight is a waste on waking and travelling as people are half asleep anyway at that time of day. And children are not wanting to go out and play at 7am. Whereas, they want to let off steam and get a small amount of sunlight available after school day is finished. Vitamin D and all that. Surely those who decide these side issues know all suffer from lack of daylight and the health giving vitamins it gives. Afternoons, for the majority of the public, is an easier time to absorb this gift.

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