Four states in Australia have just begun to save their daylight hours by putting their clocks forward one hour. I know in our household it was a bit harder than normal to wake up on Sunday morning knowing sometime during the night we were robbed of an hour's sleep (but all is OK ... we'll just have to wait six months to get it back).
My son asked me that morning, 'when does nightlight saving start?' It's not an easy concept to explain to children how we can so easily muck around with time!!
Daylight saving debates
In a few countries Daylight Saving Time (DST) has become a political power struggle, while others debate whether setting the clocks one hour ahead in the spring has the intended effect of conserving energy or reducing road accidents.
Ever since the very first time Daylight Saving Time (DST) was introduced in Germany in 1916, during World War I to save fuel during war efforts, people have disagreed about whether the time changes have in fact had the desired effect (timeanddate.com).
Pros and cons
Over 70 countries use DST today, mainly to: make better use of natural daylight; conserve energy otherwise spent on artificial light; decrease road accidents by making sure roads are naturally lit during the hours with most traffic (timeanddate.com). While in many countries these reasons are certainly supported with daylight saving, other countries really reap no benefit at all.
The argument of using DST to make better use of the natural daylight in the evenings makes most sense in the areas furthest away from the earth's equator. This is where there is the biggest difference in the number of daylight hours in winter and summer.
Many countries chop and change DST dates, while Muslim countries like Morocco may put DST on hold through the month of Ramadan. After switching between DST and standard time for many years, in 2014 Russia put an end to it. It seems the DST arguments are not unique to Australia!
DST is often linked to energy saving, but there still is disagreement as to if theory matches practice. In countries such as Canada, Cuba, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, the United States and other parts of the world, DST is used as a means of conserving energy as the demand for electricity and gas increases.
However, some countries have safety concerns around DST. People are leaving their homes when it is still dark in the mornings, thus being exposed to crime. Guatemala decided not to have DST in 2008 because of safety concerns (timeanddate.com).
Losing the hour can make big, sometimes negative, impacts on businesses now out of sync with other states in Australia, as well as the dairy industry having to alter the cows' milking clocks.
What about us?
While Queenslanders were sleeping, the rest of the eastern seaboard moved forwards an hour. Many South East Queenslanders are quite keen to introduce DST into their region but the north and west of the state are against the idea, given the hot climate (along with WA and NT).
With no political will and a divided populace on the issue, there is zero chance Queensland will be joining New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania in saving daylight. The premier and opposition have made it clear, yet again, it is not on the agenda at all (brisbanetimes.com.au).
And for those of us who have fiddled with our clocks: how are you going to spend your extra hour of daylight (aside from trying to convince your kids that it is in fact bedtime, despite the sun still shining brightly!)?
We try to have a rough DST plan in our family. We now get an extra hour of daylight together as a family after my husband comes home from work.
We like to make the most of these six months in Melbourne with lots of dinner picnics, after dinner bike rides and evening gardening times. We are grateful for the extra sunshine at the end of the day, especially when a huge chunk of our year is very cold and dark.
So here's to making the most of DST 2015 and making the extra hour of sunshine a time to strengthen our family and relationships around us.
Laura Veloso is wife to John and the mother of 3 young boys. She is trained in child welfare and primary school teaching and has experience in overseas missions and youth leadership.
Laura Veloso's archive of articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/laura-veloso.html