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Daylight Saving Time

European Parliament To Scrap Daylight Saving Time

The key argument is that it is meant to save energy. According to those in favour of DST, if clocks show a later sunrise and later sunset, it means a longer evening daytime.

Earlier this week, European Parliament voted to scrap the custom of DST, or daylight saving time. Followed twice a year by some 70 countries, including those in the European Union, it involves resetting clocks ahead by an hour in spring, and behind by an hour in autumn.

Why DST at all

The key argument is that DST is meant to save energy. This is an idea that is now debated across the world.

According to those in favour of DST, if clocks show a later sunrise and later sunset, it means a longer evening daytime. Individuals will complete their daily work routines an hour earlier, and that extra hour of daylight means — or is supposed to mean — lower consumption of energy.

Written accounts suggest that a group of Canadians in Port Arthur (Ontario) were the first to adopt the practice on July 1, 1908, setting their clocks an hour ahead. Other parts of Canada followed suit. In April 2016, during World War I, Germany and Austria introduced DST to minimise the use of artificial lighting. It gradually caught on in many countries. In the EU, clocks in the 28 member states move forward on the last Sunday in March and fall back on the last Sunday in October. India does not follow daylight saving time.

Why not

In a recent article, Popular Science magazine cited studies to list out the disadvantages of DST. One hour of lost sleep in the US, one study calculated, increases the fatal crash rate by 5.4% to 7.6% for six days following the transition.

Other studies found a higher rate of workplace injuries after the switch, leading to loss days of work; a slight drop in stock market performance; health problems as a result of disruption of the circadian rhythm (body clock) — and even longer sentences ordered by judges deprived of sleep.

The vote in European Parliament followed a survey by the European Commission. Out of 4.6 million responses, 84% voted in favour of scrapping DST.

What next

The move, passed by 410 votes to 192, comes into effect in 2021. EU member states will choose between “permanent summertime” or “permanent wintertime”. Those who choose the former will reset their clocks for the last time in March 2021; those who choose the latter would do so in October 2021.

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