It’s far past time for the Yukon to end its observance of a barbaric cultural practice – we’re talking, of course, about daylight savings.
After enduring a long winter, most Yukoners around this time have just rediscovered the joy of waking around the same time as sunlight creeps over the horizon, only to be cruelly pitched back into a world of darkness. And for what?
The chief benefit of daylight savings is being able to enjoy sunnier evenings. Maybe this is a reasonable trade-off if you live in lower latitudes, but it makes little sense when you already reside in the Land of the Midnight Sun. Dwindling light during the summer months is not a problem in need of fixing here.
Boosters of daylight savings often say it helps save energy, but a variety of studies have shown that these savings are either negligible or non-existent. There are, however, actual health and safety trade-offs. Studies have shown an uptick in motor vehicle crashes during the week following daylight saving switches. Other studies have found increases in the amount of heart attacks and strokes during these time shifts. And there’s the obvious loss of productivity that comes with bleary-eyed workers struggling with sleep deprivation.
Daylight savings is commonly imagined to have been brought about to benefit farmers, but in reality farmers have often opposed the measure, since earlier daylight is typically a boon in their line of work. Many credit Ben Franklin for first proposing the idea back in 1784. It’s worth noting that he did so as a joke, in a satirical letter that mocked how late the French slept in.
Germany adopted the practice in earnest in 1916, as a war measure to conserve the amount of coal burned by residents in the evening. Other countries soon followed, and the practice fell in and out of fashion for the decades to follow – daylight savings’ boosters were often avid golfers, another ridiculous endeavour, but that’s another subject altogether – until the 1960s, when it became commonplace in America. Canada soon followed.
However, our enlightened brethren in Saskatchewan never bought into this masochistic enterprise. Parts of British Columbia have also opted out, including the Peace River region to the province’s north, which includes Dawson Creek. That’s right: there are Canadians who live at the base of the same highway that snakes through the Yukon who do not abide by the tyranny that is daylight savings.
Similarly, in the U.S., the states of Arizona and Hawaii have conscientiously objected to daylight savings. And lately, lawmakers in California, New England, and our good neighbours in Alaska are all toying with the idea of doing away with this barbarity.
There are many aggravations in life that are beyond the control of our legislators to easily fix. Daylight savings is not one of them. All it would take is a simple debate and vote for Yukon’s MLAs to liberate the territory from this abomination, as Canada’s Constitution makes standardized time a provincial and territorial responsibility.
Let’s say enough to all this falling back and springing forward, and cease this senseless tradition of state-imposed jet lag.