Proposed Daylight Savings Time Changes (aka HR 6)

As of today, the Orthodox Union has come out against the proposed Daylight Savings Time changes. Read their Action Alert here. The funniest part of it is this part:

"The Orthodox Union joins a broad and diverse coalition in opposing this measure, including the Bush Administration, the Airline industry, and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops."

That's a broad and diverse coalition? What planet are they living on? (Props to the other AG, who is really AMG, for pointing this out to me.)

I will admit to knowing nothing at all about this matter. I heard that it might happen and I kind of ignored it. I see that the OU website says that the legislation was passed on April 21 and is currently in a House-Senate Conference, whatever that means. (Oh, it means this and this, I think. Does this mean that the bill has been floating around since 2003? I should have paid more attention in 8th grade Civics with Mrs. Kaufman!)

I like daylight and longer days, and I'm all for saving energy (as long as I can keep running my air conditioner during these dog days/nights of summer, and can sit in my frigid office all day, and ride air-conditioned trains to and from work--on the energy-saving side, I never blow dry my hair). I'm not that clear on why extending daylight savings time save so much energy, and I'd love to learn about that. I also wouldn't mind Shabbat starting and ending later for more of the year. I go to shul more when that's the case, and that's always a good thing for me. What are the downsides to this change? Of the ones that the OU listed, I guess my main concern would be about safety. Also, sunrise being at 8 am seems fairly ridiculous. And it would mess up shacharit for people who have to be at work at a normal hour.

Here is some more information about HR 6, the bill in question. I haven't read them yet but hope to when I have more time.

Bill Summary & Status
GovTrack: HR 6: Energy Policy Act of 2005" (see the map on that page for how people have voted, for which I would need to know what else is in the bill for it to make any sense at all)

Maybe I'll write more about this another time... Good night!


BZ said...

The downside is that it's much harder to get out of bed in the morning when it's still dark. In my first year as a teacher, I was happy to switch off Daylight Saving Time in October, because it meant we got an extra hour of daylight in the morning. Any way you slice it, there just isn't much daylight in the North in the winter.

The other downside is that lots of electronic devices would have to be reprogrammed to tell the correct time.

But it certainly makes life easier when Shabbat isn't starting at 4:30.

BZ said...

And I thought religious debates about Daylight Saving Time were unique to Israel - it's finally making it to this hemisphere!

Shouldn't the OU be more concerned that people are more likely to break Shabbat when it starts so early than about whether people can daven shacharit? Or, given the OU's constituency, is this a classic case of divreihem [shacharit] requiring chizuk while divrei torah [Shabbat] don't?

ALG said...

I thought it wouldn't affect my getting out of bed, since I tend to get out of bed...well, very late. But the OU website said that it would make sunrise be at 8 am in some parts of the country (I guess places that are far west in their time zone? Like Columbus, OH?). And even I am up by then! (Usually.)

The OU should definitely not be more concerned about people being more likely to break Shabbat when it starts so early! First of all, that's enough importing of religous debates from Israel for now. No need to bring Shabbat into it. Secondly, people probably "break Shabbat" pretty uniformly over the course of the 25 hours regardless of when the sun rises and sets (or rather, the time on our clocks when it does so). So I don't think that changing the start and end dates of Daylight Savings Time would affect Shabbat observance for people who don't observe Shabbat in the Orthodox way (or whatever non-offensive way one would choose to phrase that). It does affect people's ability to say Shacharit before leaving for work, though.

BZ said...

There are definitely people who stay at work until 5 PM on Friday regardless of what time sundown is, and then observe Shabbat in some form after they leave. Thus, if sundown is at 4:30, then they're still at work for some of Shabbat, but if sundown is at 5:30, then they're not. But I agree that this doesn't affect the OU constituency (who leave early on Fridays in the winter), and that the people we're talking about probably aren't observing Shabbat in an OU-approved way even after work.

BZ said...

Which is precisely my point about chizuk for d'rabbanan vs d'oraita: the OU constituency will make arrangements to leave early on Fridays (because of Shabbat, d'oraita), but probably won't make arrangements to arrive at work late to daven shacharit.

BZ said...

Also, sunrise in New York the last week of November is 7 AM, so it would be 8 AM Daylight Saving Time.

David said...

the biggest issue is not Shabbat, but rather Pesah: DST makes the Seder start an hour later, which causes grief to families which (like most) have more and less religious people in them.

It's not insurmountable, but it does make it harder to deal with. That combined with the negative effect which the later sunrise has on Seasonal Affective Disorder make me unhappy about the change.

Also, the science in favor of the change is dubious at best: most of it relies on 60's and 70's math, which don't take modern behaviors into account (i.e. air conditioning is not considered -that's a bigger draw than lights, and it's left on all the time in businesses anyway, so no change in electrical costs; longer commutes which, when made in the dark, lead to more accidents, etc)


ALG said...

Hi, David!

Yeah, I thought about Pesach, but since it happens after Daylight Saving time changes anyway so often these days (since they moved it back the first time a few years ago, I think), I didn't think that would make much of a difference.

Also, Seasonal Affective Disorder: if it stayed light later, people would get more light in during their days than if the sun rose earlier, no? I mean, people are out more after work than before work, aren't they?