Cows, Kaiser Wilhelm and Daylight Saving Time


Billions of people around the world experience general fatigue all day after losing an hour of sleep to daylight saving time. For years, conventional wisdom has been that it benefits one particular group: farmers, but that’s not actually true. There are no farming activities that benefit from daylight saving.

‘Of course daylight saving doesn’t benefit farmers, cows don’t care what time it is, because they’re cows, and cows are idiots.[1] So if it’s not for them, who is it for?

The modern daylight saving was introduced during the first world war as a fuel saving measure by the Germans. – That’s right, you lost an hour of sleep this morning thanks to Kaiser Wilhelm!

And while back then, daylight saving may indeed have saved fuel, in the modern era, energy consumption is a little more complicated. In fact, when Indiana adopted daylight saving in 2006, guess what happened: the data shows that daylight saving actually led to a 1% overall rise in residential electricity.

Of course it did, because switching on a lamp an hour later in the summer doesn’t really matter when you’re blasting an air conditioner and staying up all night psychotically scrolling through instagrams of your ex’s honeymoon to Morocco.

But that’s not to say daylight saving doesn’t have any effects at all. Studies show there is an increase of car accidents and work-related injuries the week after the time change. – That’s right, what you lose in sleep, you gain in mortal danger.

Despite all this, 70 countries around the world still observe daylight saving and yet by going by local news reports, none of them could tell you why. […]

So if it doesn’t benefit our energy bill, our health or our stupid, stupid cows, it has to make you wonder: daylight saving time, how is this still a thing?’

– Oliver. J. et. al. (2015, March 8) Daylight Saving Time – How Is This Still A Thing?: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)


[1] The authors would like to underline they do not endorse the view that all cows are idiots. A 2004 study by Cambridge University researchers revealed cows have “eureka” moments, taking pleasure in their own learning achievements. When the cows made improvements in learning, they showed emotional and behavioral reactions that indicated excitement.

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