life in and around NYC is insane

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Songbird Salutes the 70's: Double Daylight Saving Time

Spring forward, fall back.

We all know the saying.  It's how we implement Daylight Saving Time. Every spring we move the clock ahead one hour so that we have an "extra" hour of daylight in the evening.  In the fall we return to standard time.

We're on standard time now.  I've spent the better part of the last two weeks trying to get used to the time change.  Instead of going to work in the dark, I'm now leaving the office by moonlight.  

So I got to thinking about it...

Daylight Saving Time has been in use in some parts of the world since WW I.  It was used effectively during WW II.  It's been a common practice in most of the United States since the 1950's and 1960's.  Traditionally we moved ahead during the last weekend in April, and moved back to standard time at the end of October.  In 1986 that was changed to the first weekend in April.  In 2007 it was changed again -- we observe Daylight Saving Time from the second weekend in March through the first weekend in November.  That's roughly 2/3 of the year that we're not on standard time.

Before you know it, we'll be on Daylight Saving Time year-round.

Oh, wait, we've done that before!

Do you remember the energy crisis of the 1970's?  The oil embargo?    Gas rationing?  People dumping their American-made "gas guzzlers" for more fuel-efficient Japanese imports (referred to in un-PC terms as "rice burners").

During the oil crisis of 1973, President Nixon signed into law an energy-saving measure. The Emergency Daylight Saving Conservation Act,  popularly known as "double daylight saving time".  For 15 months commencing in January 1974, the country remained on Daylight Saving Time for the entire year.

I was in junior high school at the time.  Our classes started very early in the morning -- I think around 7:00 or 7:30.  I remember, in the dead of winter, walking to the bus stop in the dark, arriving to a school that was all lit up, and thinking to myself " How is this saving energy?"

I read somewhere that Congress studied the issue while it was in force, and concluded the measure was very effective, saving thousands of barrels of oil each day.   Maybe it did make a difference.  but yet, we didn't continue the practice beyond 1975.

But I will never forget the eerie feeling of attending classes in what felt like the dead of night. 

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