Opinion: We all know what a pain it is when we head out for a day’s plowing before the sun’s even risen. The oxen grumble as you prod them into wakefulness; the ground is crisp with frost; and that bottle of cold tea won’t be much use in keeping the cold at bay. How much better would it be if we could somehow move time so it was daylight all the time? We could get more plowing done if it wasn’t so damned dark in the morning.
The absurdity of changing the clocks to allow for the Earth’s axial inclination to the plane of the ecliptic is that the honest, outdoor work it was designed to help back at the beginning of the last century had carried on perfectly adequately for millennia before clocks were invented. People just got up and went to bed an hour later.
As with so many hi-tech solutions to perceived problems, the idea of moving clocks backward and forward is an anachronism when so few of us these days do much plowing. Many of us don’t even have oxen any more.
The people who do the actual plowing these days do it from the comfort of an air-conditioned cab and with the benefit of a new wonderment called electrical lighting. Indeed, most of the cereal harvesting done around my previous home in the English Cotswolds was done in the middle of the night. And bloody annoying it was too.
The crass stupidity of giving us an extra hour of daylight in the morning is that it gives us an hour less in the evening – unless, of course, we put the clocks forward again at noon and then back again every midnight. Mind you, we’d all get paid for an extra hour every day, so it wouldn’t be all bad.
As it stands, in the winter, people drive to work in daylight when they’re wide awake and back home of an evening in the dark when they’re beat. This is obviously a sure-fire recipe for enhanced road safety.
But the absolute worst thing about daylight saving is that not everyone does it – Arizona, for example, presumably because most of the inhabitants can’t actually tell the time – and large parts of Canada, where they all speak French and take four hours for lunch anyway, so productivity isn’t impacted.
The most notable regions eschewing any form of daylight saving are, rather tellingly, the most efficient manufacturing countries on the planet – Japan, China and India.
Not only does a large chunk of the planet hold no truck with the idea of changing an arbitrary measure of time to suit the Sun God, but those that do can’t decide when it should be done. Up until two years ago, The US changed its clocks on the same date as the EU, which made some kind of sense. But in 2007, the Government voted to move it to a week later, presumably to make the whole thing even more complicated.
But some in-depth research has revealed the real reason the US changed the date the clocks go back in the fall – Wyoming Senator Michael Enzi advocated the extension from October into November especially to allow children to go trick-or-treating in more daylight.
So it was all worthwhile after all.