Musings of a Beaverton Teen: The History Behind Daylight Saving Time

By Lani Garcia (11th Grader)18 Clock

Twice a year, every year, we change our clocks. I already see that it’s been getting drastically darker earlier since the beginning of fall, and it’s going to continue to get darker. Because of Daylight Saving Time (that’s right, Saving is not actually plural!), we either “spring forward” or “fall back”, but why? My grandma, born in Germany, mentioned to me that it was because of the War. I wondered if she was right.

I decided to do some research.

It turns out, Germany was actually the first country to adopt the idea in 1916. My grandma was right! The idea to make the most of daylight hours was first brought up by Benjamin Franklin, despite the fact that Daylight Saving wasn’t officially passed in the United States Congress until much later. Before this, it occurred during World War I and II to make use of longer daylight hours, and to save energy needed for the Wars effort. Today, many countries near the equator don’t participate in Daylight Saving Time due to the fact that for them daylight and nighttime hours don’t vary much throughout the year.

There is a lot of controversy about whether the time changes are a good idea or not. Those in favor argue that it reduces automobile accidents because of the increased time of visibility. They also say it conserves energy, since people don’t have to use as many lights. Daylight Saving also increases tourism and sales. “The Telegraph” says that “in the 1980s, the golf industry estimated that one extra month of daylight savings could generate up to $400 million a year in extra sales and fees”.

Critics say that it doesn’t really save energy when you consider the fact that people use air-conditioning and fans more frequently during warmer evenings. They also claim that losing sleep in the spring is linked to an increased risk of heart attacks, so Daylight Saving can cause health risks.

It seems to me that there isn’t a clear right answer. All I know is that I am looking forward to getting that one extra hour of sleep this fall and winter!

Lani is a Junior at Beaverton High School. As a ZooTeen, she volunteers at the Oregon Zoo during the summer. She plays piano & guitar, and enjoyed doing dragon boats this past year.