Fall back! Fall Back! This is not the cry of an army in retreat, but it is a reminder that the days are getting shorter and that it is time to set most clocks in the United States back one hour. Sunday, the 3rd of November at 2:00am becomes 1:00am as much of North America leaves daylight savings time by moving the clock back one hour and reverts to standard time. The cycle is reversed in the spring, when everyone “springs forward.”
Some parts of the United States never did go to savings time, but stayed one hour behind: Arizona, Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa never change their clocks. They stay the same all year around. The same is true of Canada’s Saskatchewan. Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean countries like Cuba that use daylight savings time have already fallen back.
Ben Franklin is credited with “inventing” the concept. He wrote an “Essay on Daylight Saving” for the Journal of Paris in 1784. He calculated that “An immense sum! that the city of Paris might save every year, by the economy of using sunshine instead of candles,” in other words that the advancing the clock between 20 March and 20 September (approximate dates of the vernal and autumnal equinoxes) would save sums of money.
Some say that Franklin’s letter was satirical, and that the history of daylight savings was actually proposed by George Vernon Hudson of New Zealand in 1895, a plan drawn up by William Willet in 1905, and proposed in the British Parliament in 1908 by Robert Pearce. Germany actually implemented it to save fuel in 1916 during World War I; the idea caught on both sides of the Atlantic because of energy savings. The United States and her allies again implemented it in World War II. Daylight Savings Time as currently practiced in the United States is regulated by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which sets the first Sunday in November for the “Fall Back” and the second Sunday in March as the “Spring Forward” day—10 march this year and 9 March 2014.
Even though it is controversial (children must go to school in the dark, and it is opposed by farmers—are two of the arguments people use against the autumn time change—daylight savings or something similar affects about one fourth of Earth’s population in 70 countries around the world. Some of the countries NOT using daylight time are Russia, China, Japan, most of Africa, much of Brazil, countries on the Equator, and many countries in the Pacific Ocean.
Equatorial states do not use daylight savings time, except for Brazil’s non-equatorial states. The mean amount of daylight changes more during the year toward the poles than it does around the equator. For instance, Fairbanks, Alaska’s sunrise and sunset times on the longest day this year (21 June) were 2:57am and 12:47 am respectively (about 22 and ½ hours). On the shortest day of the year (21 December) these values were 10:57am and 2:39pm, respectively (less than four hours). On the other hand, Quito Ecuador’s sunrise and sunset on the longest day of the year are 6:12am to 6:19pm (12 hours 7 minutes) and 6:08am to 6:16pm (12 hours 8 minutes) on the shortest day of the year.. Fairbanks is at 64.8436° North Latitude compared to Quito’s 0.2500° South Latitude—in other words, just below the Equator. And Ecuador does not use daylight savings time.
Several events signal the change of seasons in the United States: Memorial Day, Halloween, and the end of Daylight Savings Time. Fall is back!