Brett Blume

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) –  Don’t forget to “Spring Forward” this weekend and set your clocks ahead one hour.

Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 am Sunday.

But…why do we observe this twice-a-year clock-changing ritual, anyway?

“It’s actually a fantastically effective retail spending plan, and that’s really why we have Daylight Saving,” suggests Michael Downing, author of ‘Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time’. “Big city department stores figured this out early in the last century, which is if you give people more light at the end of the day they tend to leave their houses and go out shopping.”

But isn’t the original reason for DST, Downing is asked, to save energy because people wait an extra hour to turn on their lights at home?

Downing dismisses that theory as pure fallacy.

“It’s a cynical substitute for a real energy policy,” Downing says. “When you give people more light at the end of the day, we really do go out to the ballparks and the malls. But we’re Americans — we don’t walk there, we use our cars. Daylight Saving actually increases gasoline use.”

And that wipes out any perceived advantage concerning electricity savings, he concludes.

Another author who has devoted considerable time to studying the time change phenomenon is Dr. David Prerau, who wrote ‘Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time’.

“Actually, the idea goes back to Benjamin Franklin,” Prerau tells KMOX News. “The idea was that people are sleeping through the morning hours of daylight, wasting it. People can make a better use of daylight in the evening.”

Prerau was asked about the often-stated theory that tacking on the extra hour of daylight during the warmer months was done for the benefit of farmers.

“It’s the opposite, actually,” Prerau says. “Farmers have always been the number one group against Daylight Saving Time. Somehow the feeling has gotten around that it was for farmers, but that’s not true.”

There’s a movement to do away with Daylight Saving Time, and another to keep it all year round — in either case negating the need to change all of your clocks twice a year.

Regardless of the reason, author Michael Downing says DST – as it currently exists – is a broken and useless concept.

“There’s no way Congress can actually give us more daylight,” he suggests. “What Congress can do is change the time of day that we have the daylight to use. That doesn’t save energy, it just puts people outdoors more.”

Remember to “Spring Forward” this weekend by turning your clocks ahead one hour.

The time change officially happens at 2 am Sunday, March 11th.

Local fire officials are reminding everyone that the time change is the perfect time to also change the batteries in your smoke detectors — because working smoke detectors save lives.



KMOX © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

  1. Thomas says:

    I have written my representatives in Congress and President Obama to ask for action to eliminate daylight savings time. I hope that more citizens will communicate to their politicians to demand an end to daylight savings time changes which give us more mornings in the dark for commuting to work and our children more mornings in the dark for their journey to school.

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