Here in Florida, a misguided legislator with too much time on her hands has proposed a “Sunshine Protection Act.”
Now, you may not have realized that our sunlight was endangered and needs our protection. That’s probably because it isn’t and doesn’t.
Yet perennially this topic comes up. A similar bill died in committee last year … and the year before …
The proposal is to observe Daylight Saving Time (or, as we call it in our house, Daylight Stupid Time) year-round. Representative Kristin Jacobs, who sponsored the bill this time around, says that as Florida is the Sunshine State, we should be sunny all the time.
As if her bill could change the rotation of the earth on its axis to produce more sunlight hours during the winter.
Now, many people vehemently disagree about whether humans are better off with sunlight in the morning, as we have during standard time, or sunlight in the evening, as we have during DST.
The problem is that people are defining “morning” as from some arbitrary hour until noon, while “evening” is some point between afternoon and dark. We are thinking of “morning” and “evening” in entirely the wrong terms here.
“Morning” is the time from sunup until noon. It will be morning regardless of what your clock says. “Afternoon” and “evening” similarly depend upon noon and dusk for their demarcations. The line between afternoon and evening varies, but I tend to put it right around teatime.
The question, then, is this: What is noon?
Anyone with a sundial can tell you that noon is when shadows are shortest.
But when we start fiddling about with clocks, we wind up with a situation where your manually tinkered DST clock will say noon, while your sundial shows it is only 11 a.m., and when your sundial shows noon, the clock will read 1 p.m.
Does anyone remember what the m in a.m. and p.m. stands for?
Noon is the meridian. Everything before it for twelve hours is ante meridian, and everything after it for twelve hours is post meridian.
This is why I advocate for the position opposite to Jacobs’s: that we eliminate DST entirely.
The reason I find DST an affront to sensibility is that it tries to pretend that the meridian is a human construct like hours or minutes, for us to move about at our whim. But it isn’t. It is a physical occurrence dependent upon the rotation of the earth relative to the sun.
Cartographer Andy Woodruff created a set of interactive maps that demonstrate that standard time, not DST, produces the most even sunrise-sunset pattern. Here’s his infographic:
Fiddle with the clocks all you want. You can’t save daylight. You can’t protect it. The earth will spin and the sun will shine, and nothing you do can change the number of sunlight hours in a given day.
Come back on Monday for Gretchen E.K. Engel’s counterpoint to this topic.