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Why Do We Change the Clocks Twice a Year?

Did you ever wondered why each year, in the early hours of a Sunday morning in spring, 60 minutes ‘vanish’ from the clock and the time ‘reappears’ each year in autumn?

Benjamin Franklin is sometimes credited with the invention of daylight saving time. In 1784, he made a joking reference to something like daylight saving in a letter from France — but apparently never thought anything of the sort would ever be adopted.

There’s now broad agreement among historians that the true mastermind of daylight saving time was George Vernon Hudson (1867-1946), a specialist in insect biology (entomology) who left England for New Zealand in 1881. In 1895, when he first presented the idea to the Royal Society of New Zealand, he was mocked. Other members of the society deemed the proposal confusing and unnecessary.

George Vernon Hudson

The idea would probably remained forgotten if 10 years later the british entrepreneur William Willett (1856-1915) didn’t had the same proposal as well.

One morning during the horseback riding in London, in the summer 1905, Willett noticed that even though the sun was up long ago, a large number of people were still asleep. He tiredlessly continued to lobby for this proposal until the WWI, and even Winston Churchill himself got interested in. Unfortunately, Willett in the meantime died from a flu epidemy and did not lived to see the ‘time change’ law being enforced, encouraged by the need of saving coal. The British people followed in 1921, and after that almost all the nations in Europe and U.S.A.

William Willett

In the years after World War II, individual states and communities decided whether they wanted to continue observing Daylight Saving Time and when to do so. This meant some cities were an hour behind others even though they were only separated by a few miles on a map.

Daylight Saving Time is most helpful to those who live farther from the equator, where daylight hours are much longer in the summer than in the winter. In locations closer to the equator, daylight hours and nighttime hours are nearly the same in length throughout the year.

That’s why many equatorial cities and countries do not participate in Daylight Saving Time. But, in the United States, there are only a few places that do not observe Daylight Saving Time, including parts of Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa.

There are currently about 70 countries that participate in DaylightSaving Time, though not necessarily on the same schedule as the United States. Determining who recognizes Daylight Saving Timeand when can sound like a very complicated math word problem.

In Europe, Daylight Saving Time runs from the last Sunday in March through the first Sunday in October. In the southern hemisphere, where the summer season begins in December, Daylight Saving Time is recognized from December through March. Kyrgyzstan and Iceland observe Daylight Saving Time year-round; equatorial countries do not observe Daylight Saving Time at all.

Advocates in support of Daylight Saving Time suggest that in addition to reducing crime and automobile accidents, extended daylight hours also improve energy conservation by allowing people to use less energy to light their businesses and homes. Opposingstudies argue the energy saved during Daylight Saving Time is offset by greater energy use during the darker autumn and winter months.

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