The story of summer time that the U.S. Senate has just voted to make permanent

Arizona desert sunset

Sunset over the Arizona desertShutterstock

  • The U.S. Senate passed a bill to make summer time permanent.

  • Common wisdom about summer time is that it originates from agriculture, but it really goes back to World War I.

  • Most of the United States, with the exception of Hawaii, Arizona, and some territories, recognizes daylight saving time.

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed a bill to make daylight saving time permanent.

The 2021 Sunshine Protection Act, if passed by Parliament and signed into law by President Joe Biden, would end the ritual observed in most of the United States by changing clocks twice a year, in March and November.

In fact, most U.S. states on Sunday began over eight months of summer time by “jumping forward” and moving their clocks an hour forward, losing an hour of sleep in exchange for a later sunrise and more sunlight at the end of the day.

Thinkers including Benjamin Franklin, New Zealand scientist George Hudson, and the Englishman William Willett spoke in favor of plans that would give them more sunlight a day as far back as the 18th and 19th centuries.

The United States and several European countries introduced summer time during World War I and World War II as an energy-saving measure and kept it in peacetime.

Today, most of the United States, with the exception of Hawaii, Arizona, and many U.S. territories, recognizes summer time. While many northern states appreciate the extra hour of sunshine, some states that experience unbearable heat in the summer prefer one hour of night time instead of staying at standard time all year round.

Here’s the full story of summer time in the United States.

The idea for summer time is attributed to thinkers including Benjamin Franklin, the scientist George Hudson, and a British man named William Willett, who published a pamphlet in 1907 entitled “The Waste of Daylight,” which argued for another 80 minutes of sunlight. in the summer.

William Willett

William Willett.Universal History Archive / UIG via Getty Images

Source: The History Channel

While Britain did not act on Willett’s proposal at the time, Germany implemented summer time during World War I as a way to save electricity by maximizing sunlight.

world war first world war

“By close grips with the females, we bomb the plug chopper, etc.” Two American soldiers run past the remains of two German soldiers against a bunker. Note that this may well be a staged propaganda image.HD Girdwood via Library of Congress

Source: The History Channel

“They remembered Willett’s idea of ​​moving the clock forward and thus having more daylight during working hours,” author and historian David Prerau told National Geographic. “While the British were talking about it year after year, the Germans decided to do it more or less by fiat.”

Daffodils Germany

Daffodils in Düsseldorf, Germany.Photo by AP / Frank Augstein

Source: National Geographic

The United States also implemented World War I during World War I under President Woodrow Wilson in 1918 – but Congress later repealed the measure in 1919.

Woodrow wilson

President Woodrow Wilson.Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Source: The History Channel

However, several studies have since concluded that daylight saving time has no or negligible benefits when it comes to energy savings.

FILE - In this May 25, 2017 archive photo, the lignite-fired power plant from Milton R. Young Station near Center, ND, while twilight covers the prairie landscape of North Dakota.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on Tuesday, February 26, 2019 that it will retain the standard for sulfur dioxide pollution, which was established in 2010 under President Barack Obama.  Sulfur dioxide comes from burning coal to produce electricity and from other industrial sources.  (Tom Stromme / The Bismarck Tribune via AP, file)

FILE – In this May 25, 2017 archive photo, the lignite-fired power plant from Milton R. Young Station near Center, ND, while twilight covers the prairie landscape of North Dakota.Associated Press

Source: History Channel

It is a common misconception that farmers are pushing for summer time in the United States to have more time to work outside in the fields.

FILE - In this September 3, 2002 stock photo, farmer John Hawk looks out over his land while his seed bulb fields are being watered in Holtville, California.  Work on a multi-state plan to tackle the drought on the Colorado River in the western United States won 'It does not have to happen to meet a federal deadline Monday, March 4, 2019. A California irrigation district with the highest priority rights to the river says it does not will approve the plan without securing money to restore the state's largest lake.  The Imperial Irrigation District wants $ 200 million for the Salton Sea, a massive, salty lake in the desert southeast of Los Angeles (AP Photo / Reed Saxon, File)

FILE – In this September 3, 2002 stock photo, farmer John Hawk looks out over his land while watering his seed bulb fields in Holtville, California.Associated Press

Source: The History Channel

Because farmers’ schedules revolved around sunlight and not the clock, a change in the amount of sunlight threw their entire workday out of halt. Agricultural groups were behind the effort to abolish summer time in 1919.

Farmer Mark Catterton is driving a John Deere Harvester while he harvests soybeans during his fall harvest on October 19, 2018 in Owings, Maryland.

Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Source: The History Channel

After the national abolition of summer time in 1919, many individual states and cities continued to adjust their clocks twice a year, but on different days and times, in what Time magazine in 1963 characterized as “a chaos of clocks.”


Electric Time Company employees Dan LaMoore, right, and James Simonini test the lights in three large clocks being built at the company’s manufacturing facility in Medfield, Massachusetts.Photo by AP / Stephan Savoia

Source: The History Channel

The History Channel reported that at the time, “passengers on a 35-mile bus ride from Steubenville, Ohio, to Moundsville, West Virginia, underwent seven time changes.”

West Virginia

West Virginia.shutterstock / Andriy Blokhin

Source: The History Channel

In 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act, which set summer time to begin and end at the same time throughout the country. Since 2005, summer time has begun the second Sunday in March and ended the first Sunday in November.

Reminder of summer time

A reminder to switch clocks back from summer time this fall from Brooklyn, New York, in 1964.Underwood Archives / Getty Images

Source: The History Channel

However, Hawaii, most of Arizona and a number of US territories do not recognize summer time – mainly because the night brings cooler, more comfortable temperatures than the heat of the day.

hawaii four seasons

Hawaii.Lent by Four Seasons Resort Hualalai

Source: National Geographic

“In the summer, everyone loves to have an extra hour of daylight in the evening so they can stay out an hour more,” Prerau told National Geographic. “In Arizona, it’s just the opposite. They don’t want more sunlight, they want less.”

Arizona desert sunset

Sunset over the Arizona desert.Shutterstock

Source: National Geographic

While states may voluntarily opt out of recognizing daylight saving time or choose to be on daylight saving time year-round, they must pass a law and obtain approval from the U.S. Congress.

Sanibel Florida

Jeffrey Greenberg / Education Images / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Source: NBC Montana

Legislators in over a dozen states have enacted legislation or resolutions in recent years to make summer time permanent in their states. But these bills have not been able to enter into force without congressional action.

Texas langhorn


Source: National Conference of State Legislators

Some studies have linked declining sleep during summer time with adverse health effects, such as increases in heart attacks, car accidents and work-related injuries.

coronavirus hospital complication heart

Doctors from the Houston Fire Department are transporting a man to a hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest on August 11, 2020 in Houston, Texas.John Moore / Getty Images

Source: Detroit Free Press, Insider

In March 2019, the European Parliament voted to permanently end summer time in the European Union with effect from 2021, leaving individual countries to decide whether to operate on permanent “summer time” or “winter time”.

The Parliament of the European Union flags Brussels

A Union Jack flag is lowered at half-mast in honor of the victims of the Manchester attack outside the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium on 23 May 2017.Reuters / Francois Lenoir

Source: Insider

The two-part bill passed by the Senate on Tuesday would make summer time permanent all year round in states that currently recognize it.

Capitol Washington

People walk along the Reflecting Pool at the National Mall, near the US Capitol and the Washington Monument.Photo by Al Drago / Getty Images

The Sunshine Protection Act of 2021, introduced by Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, is co-sponsored by a two-part group of 13 senators.

“In a year that feels like it’s been in complete darkness, Senator Rubio and I have provided a solution to provide more sunlight by making daylight saving time permanent,” said GOP Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, one of co-sponsors of the bill. in 2021. “I do not know a parent of a young child who would be opposed to getting rid of jumping forward or falling back. Congress created summer time decades ago as a wartime effort, now it’s far over time to lock the clock and end this experiment. “

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