Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What is the purpose of Daylight Savings Time (DST)?

If you are like most people who live in a country which uses a Daylight Savings Time (or DST) regime, you have probably wondered, at least once, what the purpose for this seemingly weird practice is. Well, in case you don't know, I am now going to explain to you what DST is, the history of it, and why we now use it.

You see, most people tend to wake up long after Sunrise (now, come on, don't be afraid to admit that you like sleeping in!). Therefore, they are most active in the evening, after Sunset. Because the Sun has now gone down, they need to get light from artificial sources, such as light-bulbs. And, obviously, this wastes energy. So, the governments of several countries around the world have now implemented a new system of maintaining their clocks, which is known as Daylight Savings Time, or DST.

At some time during the year, usually near the beginning of Spring, people move their clocks forward, one hour. That way, it would help them save energy, because there would be more sunlight available for them to use, when they wake up, later. For example, if it is 8:00 PM, they would adjust their clocks to 9:00 PM. That way, the clock would say, "9:00 PM", even though, if you look outside, there would still be just as much daylight as there would be, if it were 8:00 PM. In other words, the main purpose of DST is pretty much to get people to use as much sunlight as possible, so that they can save energy.

The concept of Daylight Saving Time has a very long and interesting history. In the 18th Century, Benjamin Franklin first came up with the idea of Daylight Savings Time. However, he never formally published his ideas, and, so, they were then forgotten.

Later on, in 1895, the New Zealand entomologist Dr. George Vernon Hudson once again proposed the idea of DST. He then submitted a paper, advocating his viewpoint, to the Wellington Philosophical Society, for publication. After the town of Christchurch, New Zealand showed considerable interest in his new idea, he wrote another paper, advocating it, in 1898.

The English golfer William Willett also independently came up with the concept of Daylight Savings, in 1905. Willett noticed how many people in his city slept through the daylight hours, and thus needed to use more artificial light, in the evening. Willett then took his proposal, to the British Parliament. The first bill advocating this position was was introduced to the House of Commons, on 12 February, 1908. However, this bill never became a law. Willett then continued to advocate his idea of Daylight Savings Time, until his death, in 1915.

As a result of this, Daylight Savings Time is now used by many different countries, all over the world, including the United States, which first started to use it, in 1918. In the United Kingdom, Daylight Savings Time is also known as British Summer Time (or BST).

So, in conclusion, Daylight Savings Time really is a fascinating subject, in my opinion. I also hope that you now have a better idea, of how DST works.

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