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MURPHY: No need to save daylight during its plentiful time

J.K. Murphy

J.K. Murphy

I'm looking out my office window. It's dark out. Not just dark, but pitch-black dark. The kind of dark that swallows oak trees and makes buildings disappear and reduces motor vehicles to a pair of white dots coming and red lights going. Let's be clear: It's dark -- and it's only 6:15 p.m.

Last Sunday, our nation "fell back" in time -- a move to brighter mornings and darker evenings. I don't like it.

An early form of daylight saving time is credited to Benjamin Franklin, the man who also gave us "early to bed, early to rise." It's said that Franklin's original treatise on the matter was submitted in jest. "An Economical Project" supposed that by changing sleeping habits, Parisians could save 64 million pounds of candle wax over the course of a summer. While Franklin wrote whimsically about his scheme, the idea eventually caught on, and now twice a year we manipulate time to compensate for the tilt of the Earth as it orbits the sun.

I have no problem with daylight saving time. My angst comes on the days after we revert to standard time.

Why do we save daylight in the summer when days are at their longest? The lengthiest day of the year is the summer solstice. As I recall from Mr. Seyfried's seventh-grade science class, that's when the sun is at its greatest distance from the celestial equator, meaning for us in the Northern Hemisphere the sun is in the zenith at the tropic of Cancer. This occurs "about June 21." Scientists haven't been able to pin down an exact date, presumably because we have no rulers long enough to measure the distance between the equator and sun. There's also some stuff about the tides, the moon and gravitational pull, but let's not get bogged down in details.

During the summer, the DST switch puts sunset at somewhere about 10:30 p.m. -- great if you're playing softball, not so good if you're waiting for a fireworks show.

But as the days grow shorter, we go off DST and experience the aforementioned phenomenon -- dusk at 5:45, dark at 6:15.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a little daylight once you got home from work? Now, any yard work requires flashlights. It's depressing.

I actually like driving to work in the dark; it gives me the feeling I've got a jump on the day.

The winter solstice occurs "about Dec. 21" and is the shortest day of the year. Because Georgia is in the eastern end of the Eastern time zone, daylight on Dec. 21 seems to last about 18 minutes.

So shouldn't we "save daylight" during the winter when daylight is most scarce? The solution is to take Franklin's proposal, tweak it a bit, change some dates, move some hours around and, voila, we're observing DST yearround.

For those who still feel a need to switch, we could move the clock forward an additional hour and call this Super DST. Think of it: We could be the next Land of the Midnight Sun.

J.K. Murphy is the publisher of the Gwinnett Daily Post. E-mail him at jk.murphy@gwinnettdailypost.com.