For those of us in North America, Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, November 4, 2012. That means many of us will wake up when it's dark outside and return from work when its dark again. But, the good news is, we'll "gain" an extra hour thanks to ideas originating hundreds of years ago.
Following what many historians claim was a drinking binge during 1784, Founding Father Benjamin Franklin attempted to convince people via an anonymous letter to reduce their spending on candles by saving light. His thought that waking earlier in the morning to use sunlight rather than staying up in the evening would conserve candle rations. This idea didn’t grow widely accepted until nearly one hundred years later. It was George Vernon Hudson's 1895 proposal first implemented during WWI that began this "Spring Ahead, Fall Back" principle which still confuses some of us today.
With the goal to add daylight during summer months, and perhaps increase the leisure time (Hudson was a New Zealand entomologist), Hudson presented the idea to shift the clock by two hours to the Wellington Philosophical Society. Within a few years, England’s William Willett also published an independent proposal similar to Hudson’s. Robert Pearce, a Liberal Member of Parliament, continued the momentum and introduced a bill during 1908 that repeatedly failed to pass. It wasn’t until April 30, 1916 when Germany and its Axis allies applied Daily Savings Time to conserve coal that the idea spread throughout England, Europe, Russia, and eventually the U.S.
Since then, many researchers have tried to determine if the benefits of Daily Savings Time outweigh the risks. Either way, the change of our clocks, computers, watches, and other timepieces is a reminder to all of us that we need to replace the batteries in our smoke detectors and perhaps attempt to reduce our electrical consumption. And maybe if we’re lucky, the kids will sleep in.