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Daylight Saving Time might be wasting more than saving energy
Source: Suparnaa Dutta, Date: March , 2009
From this month onwards, about a quarter of the world’s population will lose sleep and gain sunlight as they set their clocks ahead for daylight saving. But whether such a practice of adjusting forward one hour near the beginning of spring (and backward in autumn ) do actually lead to energy conservation has been doubted by scientists.
Modern Daylight Saving Time or DST was first proposed in 1907 by the English builder William Willett.It is said that the idea of DST struck this prominent English builder and outdoorsman during a pre-breakfast ride, when he observed with dismay how many
Londoners slept through a large part of a summer day.An avid golfer, he also disliked cutting short his round at dusk
Historically ,Benjamin Franklin who is creditted in coining the well-known proverb " Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise",is also credited with conceiving the idea of daylight saving in 1784 to conserve candles.(When Franklin Benjamin became an American envoy to France, he anonymously published a letter suggesting that Parisians economize on candles by rising earlier to use morning sunlight).The U.S. did not institute it until World War I as a way to preserve resources for the war effort. .
Ancient civilizations has their own techniques to adjust time often making use of different scales for different months Daylight was divided into twelve equal hours regardless of day length. As a result each daylight hour was longer during summer. Unequal hours are still used in a few traditional settings, such as some Mount Athos monasteries.
Germany, its World War I allies, and their occupied zones were the first European nations to use Willett's invention, starting April 30, 1916. Britain, most of its allies, and many European neutrals soon followed suit. Russia and a few other countries waited until the next year; and the United States adopted it in 1918.
Coming back to the energy conservation issue,in 2006 Indiana state in the US instituted daylight saving statewide for the first time. Examining electricity usage and billing since the statewide change, reserachers have unexpectedly found that daylight time led to a 1 percent overall rise in residential electricity use by hiking the demand for cooling on summer evenings and heating in early spring and late fall mornings.This costs the state an extra $9 million.
The American researchers have been in dilemma ever since reports of DST as energy-waster has surfaced.Should the time be adjusted at all to aid daylight saving?
The farming community would certainly be pleased. One of the many drawbacks of DST is that it disrupts the farming schedules. On the benefit side there are retailers, especially those involved with sports and recreation, (activities that exploit sunlight after working hours,)who have always argued in favour of extending daylight time. Studies have revealed less number of traffic fatalities when there is extra afternoon daylight; however,its effect on health and crime is less clear.
As Franklin's 1784 satire pointed out, lighting costs are reduced if the evening reduction outweighs the morning increase. An early goal of DST was to reduce evening usage of incandescent lighting, formerly a primary use of electricity.Although energy conservation remains an important goal,energy usage patterns have greatly changed since then.Thus , this debate over whether daylight saving time can really lead to saving energy.
As I write this editorial a very interesting piece of news draws my attention.In their search for a lost world British scientists would soon be drilling through the Antarctic cover trying to unearth life forms hidden under the ice sheets for more than 400,000 years.Researchers expect to find species, the oldest of which might have survived two million years ,in that sub-glacial Antarctic lakes.In the first -of -its- kind probe that would follow scienticists hope to break into Lake Ellsworth in the Antarctic to capture chemical signs of life.
Reports suggest that scopes of such findings are unlimited. For one, if indeed microbes could be unearthed , this would indicate at life-forms that have evolved and survived in almost total isolation from rest of the earth organisms and they now may be significantly different from similar life forms on the surface of our blue planet.Secondly and most importantly,this might lead to fulfill one of humanity's most colorful and adventurous dreams: that of finding extra-terrestrail life .Scientists argue that if life could be found surviving under such thick frozen layer in the Antarctic , chances of similar life existing underneath the frozen ocean on Europa, one of Jupiter's moons, can not be totally written off.
Wishing all of you a very green and clean Holi ! When we meet again next month we promise to bring before you more such intresting and intriguing news from all over the world. Meanwhile , be in touch and let us know how we can improve our e-newsletter.Your feedback is most important to us.