Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Saving Daylight

Quoting from this morning's Courier-Mail (assuming that the link to the full article will disappear soon):

QUEENSLAND might not be about to split into different time zones under daylight saving, but yesterday's decision to bury the controversial issue has divided the state.

Premier Anna Bligh's decision to rule out a referendum, trial or a southeast corner zonal system split opinion between the coast and the farms.

The decision was taken worst on the Gold Coast, where support for winding clocks forward one hour during summer was strongest because of different time zones near the border.

Tourism groups were most disappointed, saying daylight saving meant more time for tourists to play.

"Many of our international visitors, in particular, like to dine and go out later in the evening and daylight saving works well with that lifestyle," Gold Coast Tourism spokesman Ben Poole said.

Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke last night accused Ms Bligh of lacking leadership qualities.

He said: "You really have to dig to the bottom of the barrel to find some reason not to adopt daylight saving when the rest of the country has it."

Yes, I live in the part of Australia (a very big part, mind you!) that does not have daylight saving time. In fact, Queensland had voted against it mid-20th century, later voted it in (and had it sometime in the 70s), and then voted it out again. Western Australia recently adopted it on a trial basis, although it's probably going to be repealed soon due to many people who now hate it (maybe Brett can clarify that...). The rest of the country, with the exception of the Northern Territory, doesn't appear to have any problems with DST. Having never spent a summer without DST myself, facing a summer with sunsets around 7:30 makes me a bit uncomfortable, so I turned to the old Wikipedia for some clarification.

First, did you know that most of the world's population does not observe DST and its use is actually on the decline?
Key: Blue=DST used, Orange=DST no longer used, Red=never used

Second, politics, and not some sort of common wisdom, has played an enormous role since 1907 when it was first proposed. Winston Churchill was very much in favour of it, and Canadian novelist Robertson Davies argued that opponents to DST represented "the bony, blue-fingered hand of Puritanism, eager to push people into bed earlier, and get them up earlier, to make them healthy, wealthy and wise in spite of themselves." (I saw one of these Puritans railing against it on TV this morning: "children would have to wake up in the dark!"). More recently, the U.S. Congress extended the American DST period in response to pressure from lobbyists representing the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association and the National Association of Convenience Stores. Typically, in other parts of the world the retail and travel industries have been in favour of DST, whereas those in more rural areas (primarily farmers) have opposed it. So, the arguments about DST confronting Queensland's Anna Bligh are really not so new after all.


Audra said...

I heard a story that THE reason there is no daylight savings in Queensland was because the cows didn't like it.

There was much frowning.

Anonymous said...

I am not really certain I understand the entire premise in support of DST, but I do feel it has alot to do with energy conservation. (The earlier it gets dark, the earlier we turn on lights and so forth..) Seems to me we are simply trading one for another so I am not sure how this actually saves energy. I can offer my perspective from the west coast of the US. Bearing in mind that in this northern hemisphere our spring comes in March and our autumn comes in October, the complete opposite is something I'll have to adapt to eventually. I despise it being dark in the winter at 4:30 in the afternoon. To me this just makes me feel more exhausted to drive home from work in the dark. It seems to me we don't "fall back" far enough. However, if I were allowed to vote on the issue then I think that I would vote to roll the clocks back two hours in the autumn and just leave it that way, because I would not mind it getting dark at say 7pm or 8pm in the summer as long as it didn't get dark too early in the winter. Just my humble opinion :-)

The Prof said...

Now, where did you hear that story, Audra? Have you been talking to those NSW heifers again?

It looks like you're going to be experiencing the DST-less summer when you get to Brisbane, Author! I don't get that energy conservation bit about DST either...I want to check the sources of those reports--does the Association of Travel Resorts really have a research centre devoted to saving the earth?!

Anonymous said...

I didn't even know there was such an association - is there really? (blink blink... why does this feel like a blonde moment?) :-) Anyway, here is a link to explain it at least from California's perspective, which is pretty much a blonde state overall... http://www.energy.ca.gov/daylightsaving.html (forgive me, I don't know how to do links yet..)

The Prof said...

Here's a bit more from the Wikipedia entry about DST. Please refer to the link in my original post to get the links:

Delaying the nominal time of sunrise and sunset increases the use of artificial light in the morning and reduces it in the evening. As Franklin's 1784 satire pointed out, energy is conserved if the evening reduction outweighs the morning increase, which can happen if more people need evening light than morning. However, statistically significant evidence for any such effect has proved elusive. The U.S. Dept. of Transportation (DOT) concluded in 1975 that DST might reduce the country's electricity usage by 1% during March and April,[4] but the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) reviewed the DOT study in 1976 and found no significant energy savings.[5] In 2000 when parts of Australia began DST in late winter, overall electricity consumption did not decrease, but the morning peak load and prices increased.[6] In North America, there is no clear evidence that electricity will be saved by the extra DST introduced in 2007,[19] and though one utility did report a decrease in March 2007, five others did not.[20] DST may increase gasoline consumption: U.S. gasoline demand grew an extra 1% during the newly introduced DST in March 2007.

sceptic said...

In the temperate latitude range (30-55 degrees N or S) where most of Europe and North America lies, the sun comes up between about 4.00 and 6.00 am in summer on DLS -depending on what month it is and whether a location lies to the east or west of the time zone meridian. On tropical latitudes (0-30 degrees), the DLS sunrise is somewhere between 5.30 and 7.30 am. Because the vast majority of people rise at about 6.00-7.30 am, the DLS evening energy saving on tropical latitudes is heavily compromised in the morning by having to turn on lights, whereas in temperate zones there is virtually nill compromise. All the DLS energy studies we hear about are undertaken in countries on temperate zone latitudes. There has been s.f.a. done on this subject in Australia - to take into account the nation's much lower latitude range. Considering the amount of angst and controversy daylight saving causes here, this oversight is a disgrace.

The Prof said...

Excellent points, sceptic! The whole "DST saves energy" argument is much more complicated than I originally thought.

If you get a chance, please enlighten me with the "s.f.a" in your sentence, "There has been s.f.a. done on this subject in Australia." I'm guess it's another great Aussie expression that even has an abbreviation...possibly very useful to me!

Aaron said...

I'm compelled to note that there is an error in your post: Robertson Davies described *ADVOCACY* of Daylight Savings Time, not opposition, as "the bony, blue-fingered hand of Puritanism".
Indeed, forcing people to wake with the sun is the stated purpose of DST as originally proposed by Franklin (such as the proposal was) and, later, Willet.

The Prof said...

Aaron, thanks for your comment. But now I'm confused about that quote. Doesn't DST force people stay up later, and get up later? If you rise with the sun under DST, then you'd be getting up an hour later than someone who doesn't observe DST. Without DST we get up much earlier in Brisbane because sunrise is before 5 am!