Every year we undergo the same travail--losing an hour's sleep in the transition from Eastern Standard to Daylight Savings Time. (Yes, we know, it happened a week and a half ago, but we're still thoroughly discombobulated.) And every year we become more firmly convinced that this is an idea whose time has come and long since gone.
Daylight Savings Time was first adopted during World War I by the United States and other countries. The War To End Wars itself ended in 1918, but like several other wartime traditions, DST lingered on. World War II gave it a shot in the arm and it has remained in effect ever since, except in Hawaii and a few holdout areas in Indiana. Every spring we dutifully move our clocks forward an hour and every fall move them back.
Its adherents maintain that DST conserves lighting power and provides more usable daylight hours for afternoon and evening activities. Those who remember the energy crisis of the early 1970s may recall that attempts to put DST in effect all year round for precisely those reasons didn't work. The only result was that as much artificial light was needed in the mornings when children were going to school and adults were going to work. The idea was quietly dropped when it became evident that year-round DST would create more problems than it would solve.
As far as extending afternoon and evening hours, the situation would remain the same no matter what artificial constructs are placed on daylight. The earth tilts on its axis so that summer nights are shorter and winter nights longer in the Northern Hemisphere. This is a fact of life on this planet which has been going on long before any feeble attempts by humankind to control the length of a day were even thought of.
Spring is a transient phenomenon in many areas of the Northeastern United States, New York City among them. The Vernal Equinox, the point in time when the earth tilts its northern half to the sun, falls on or close to March 20, a day not usually noted in these regions for temperate weather. Such spring as there may be is capricious and unpredictable. We've had snow on Major League Baseball's Opening Day and sleet on Easter. To herald spring with the further insult of lost sleep and longer, darker mornings is a further insult to our sensitivities.
More and more of the objects that we find necessary to manage our days or at least make life easier and more convenient--microwave ovens, stereo systems, computers--have internal clocks that need changing every half-year under this regimen. Just resetting alarm clocks, wrist watches and other timepieces is inconvenience enough without having to track down and change every electronic device in one's life. The days will get longer, the temperatures warmer and summer will march inexorably on in spite of the man-made constraints we place on the movement of the earth around the sun. We don't need Daylight Savings Time to tell us a new season is beginning. Let's give Daylight Savings time the deep six at long last.