Good morning, Europe! Did you enjoy your extra hour of sleep last night?
It’s been six years now that I’ve been following Daylight Saving Time news, and at least a couple that I’ve been paying attention to what’s going on in Europe with a fix for what they call Summertime and Wintertime.
I do not claim to be any kind of expert in the intricacies of European politics, but I was encouraged by news. And now I have to admit that I just got it wrong.
The stories I read made it seem that the E.U. made a decision in 2019 that there would be no more clock changing starting in 2021, and that each country had until then to decide what time zone it would be in permanently.
So as we go into this weekend for the “Fall Back” change in Europe, I went searching for what I was sure to be a raft of stories about what decision each country is making.
There was so little coverage, that I actually had to go look on some German-language sites and use Google Translate to figure out what was going on.
It turns out I had one small key piece of the puzzle wrong.
The EU didn’t say to countries that they had to pick, it said that they should pick one time zone and stick with it.
So a lot of the countries started talking about it, but they all wanted to be in synch with other neighboring countries, and all are now waiting for someone to make the first move and so the conversation went about like this classic scene from Jungle Book:
With no clear leadership, the idea has just kind of languished. So, alas, it looks like there will be no #LockTheClock anytime soon in the E.U.
As a side note, the U.S and the E.U., will also remain out of step with each other, as Europe changes clocks a week before America in the fall, and several weeks later in the spring, leading to this kind of mess:
This is all really a shame because I have been touting this brilliant European solution for us in America. It makes sense here.
The federal government could say: In two years (or less, based on when the law is enacted) there will be no more clock changing. If you are on the border of a time zone line, you have until then to figure out if you want to be in permanent Standard Time like we have in the winter, or permanent Daylight Saving Time like we have in the summer. If you do nothing, you will be in permanent Daylight Saving Time.
Why the bias toward permanent DST? Just political reality. There are so many business interests aligned behind keeping more sunlight later in the day that there’s no sense fighting them. Also, there have been nearly 20 states that have passed a bill through their legislature in the last two years, and every single one of them has been a move to stay in DST year round.
Right now, under the law, any state could move into permanent Standard Time right now, and not a single state has done that since Arizona did it in the 1960s.
That’s not to say it couldn’t happen.
I recently made a presentation to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and included these two maps:
Facing a situation where the sun wouldn’t come up until 9 a.m. for a few days in the winter, Indiana may make the decision to switch to Central Time permanently. That would be the same as what they have right now for the Standard Time part of the year.
Who should decide that? Me? Some research group? The Federal Government?
No, no and no.
The people of the great state of Indiana, via the established form of government known as the state legislature, should decide. The golf industry, et. al., may make a case that they need the sunlight in the summer, but it will be a hard case to make. The state is so far west in the time zone that there’s plenty of light to go around in the summer.
I’m the first to concede, this answer is a bit complex. Sorry about that. If there was an easy solution, we would have done it already.
Covid is still the main issue that our government needs to deal with, and the elections in the U.S. truly are historic and important.
But visits to my site, emails, and general interest in this issue are rising in the ways they do every year about this time. (It’s true, a lot of people are just looking for Daylight Saving Time memes, and I’ll be sure to make a post with those soon enough.)
And the state legislators are starting to think about what bills they are going to introduce in the coming sessions. Federal lawmakers are plotting how to get something done in what may be a new-look Washington.
My hope is that even though the European solution has not yet actually worked for Europe, with one small tweak it could work here.
That’s what I’ll be pushing for, and I hope you’ll join me.