Many New Yorkers become shells of their happy selves during the winter months. They get smacked with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which, because of a lack of sunlight, leads to an abundance of melatonin which creates depression, hopelessness, malaise and even suicidal thoughts.
Doctors will tell you that you can fight those winter blues with pills and lamp -- vitamin D and light therapy.
That’s all well and good, but nothing is better for the mind and body than the natural source of that -- daylight.
But, getting it is easier said than done.
During the winter months, most working people can’t get outdoors until the weekend because the government took away what precious sunlight we had during the week. Well, more accurately, Uncle Sam didn’t take away the sunlight, he just changed Mankind’s movements around it.
The recent “fall back” routine associated with the end of Daylight Saving Time (DST) robbed us of an hour of daylight every evening. That in conjunction with the shortening days as we close in on the winter solstice makes for early nightfall and not much time – if any – to get outdoors after work.
DST’s later sunsets were a blessing, something to appreciate. But oddly, some elected officials want nothing to do with it. Whenever we change the clocks numerous news reports are quick to point out that many bureaucrats at the federal and state levels want to do away with DST and leave everything as Standard Time, which means what we’re seeing now (an hour earlier end to the day) even in the summer months.
Why would they want that?
The lawmakers always cite, beyond the inconvenience of having to change the little hand on their watches, alleged increases in car accidents and heart attacks on or around the day the clocks change.
If health and safety is the reason to call for the end of DST, wouldn’t it be more reasonable to ditch Standard Time and make Daylight Saving Time the standard?
You’d also allow the working class to go outside and bask in the sunshine and get some much-needed exercise on winter evenings. That would help beat SAD as well as our obesity epidemic.
Also, think about the local weather. If DST was the norm, both the morning and evening commutes would be afforded daylight, something that can be a precious tool when navigating bumper-to-bumper traffic in lake effect snow bands. Darkness only worsens driving conditions.
But enough about us adults. What about the children?
We relentlessly harangue today’s kids about physical activity. We want them to ditch the phones, computers, and televisions and get outdoors to play sports, enjoy nature, and run around like youngsters are supposed to.
Even the National Football League and public schools across the country work together to promote something called Play 60 which encourages kids to have 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
How can they when we just took away a full hour of potential playtime?
For the next few months, a child who gets off the bus close to if not after the four o’clock hour has almost no time to change clothes and get muddy, snowy, or sweaty.
They certainly can’t get in 60 minutes of vigorous play before the sun sets. But, were we to have Daylight Saving Time, they would.
We need to let kids be kids.
Heck, we need to let us old folks play, too.
So, the next time you hear an elected official push for the end of Daylight Saving Time ask that misguided soul to consider the consequences and, while they’re at it, look north for guidance.
Last week, much to the delight of daylight-starved Ontario residents from Windsor north to Fort Severn, the Ontario legislature passed the Time Amendment Act which would make a permanent change to DST as the only time in the province.
The sponsor, Jeremy Roberts, cited the aforementioned positive impacts on health and quality of life and he also noted how it would benefit the economy – people are more likely to move about and spend money on retail under the sun’s glow.
His fellow lawmakers agreed wholeheartedly as the bill passed unanimously.
But, there’s a caveat.
The bill still requires Royal Assent. Ontario’s Attorney General won’t make it law unless there’s a buy-in and passage of like bills in Quebec and New York.
Yes, New York.
So, there’s our cue.
If there wasn’t enough pressure for Governor Cuomo and the state legislature to improve the well-being of our 19.5 million residents, now the heat is on to move ahead with sensible legislation that would improve the outcomes of the 23 million more who reside in our neighboring provinces. The Ontario government will be calling…often. They need us.
Let’s follow their lead. Let’s make it Daylight Saving Time all the time. There’s nothing SAD -- I mean sad -- about that.
From the 30 November 2020 Greater Niagara Newspapers and Batavia Daily News