It might be a shock to learn that France is the country with the greatest number of time zones a whopping 12 different districts. Of course, the contiguous, metropolitan France is all under the same time jurisdiction; the country has simply colonized lands all over the globe. Tied for the second-greatest number of time zones with 11 are Russia and the United States across its geographic and territorial time zones.
China, in contrast, established one uniform time zone that adheres to Beijing Standard Time in accordance with the time in Beijing. Chairman Mao Zedong, upon gaining control in 1949, decreed that all of China be governed under the same time zone. This is true despite the fact that China is the same size as the continental U.S. and has five geographical time zones.
One would expect time to be a simple endeavor to manage, but recent U.S. legislation has made the matter more complicated than ever, especially when daylight saving time is factored into the equation.
There has been much debate over abolishing daylight saving time altogether. One of the main proponents for continuing with the practice is the National Parent Teacher Association, which argues that daylight saving time is necessary to minimize the number of hours school children have to commute to school in the dark. The Department of Transportation is also in favor of maintaining the practice, citing energy saving and, interestingly, a decrease in crime.
There is little denying human health is dependent on the clock. Researchers note that the average person should be able to adjust to the hour change in just a couple of days. However, the problem lies in people taking advantage of the extra hour of sleep, which may cause a sleep pattern irregularity.
Several states, including California, are so convinced by the benefits of daylight saving time and the drawbacks of returning to standard time that they have moved to make daylight saving time a permanent phenomena. While many state governors have already signed laws making daylight saving permanent, their time zones will not change unless Congress approves the request, as is required by the 1966 federal law. While there has been no progress on this front, President Donald Trump tweeted the following in March: “Making Daylight Saving Time permanent is OK with me!”
Although the law restricts states from extending daylight saving time, it does allow them to refuse to adjust their clocks and observe the time change without initial authorization from Congress. That’s exactly what Arizona, Hawaii and several other U.S. territories do.
Some states, particularly in the New England region, are considering using a legal loophole that would allow them to extend daylight saving without authorization from Congress. Instead of petitioning Congress for permission to permanently observe daylight saving time, they are considering introducing a new time zone entirely: Atlantic Standard Time, which will be one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time. The reasoning is as follows: If a time zone proposal is introduced in local legislatures, it would not require congressional approval, which is something the courts will ultimately have to decide.
On the other end of the extreme, Texas is considering permanently observing standard time and abolishing daylight saving time within the state. And just to add to the mix, states like Delaware and Oregon have introduced legislation creating permanent daylight saving time that would only take effect if all other states within their current time zone make the change as well.
Clearly, there is an overabundance of opinions on what to do regarding a seemingly simple feat: time. When it comes to daylight saving time’s effect on college students, most remain focused on how many 8 a.m. classes they have, what time a professor says an essay is due and, of course, whether they need that extra hour to get it done.
Shauli Bar-On is a junior writing about sociopolitical issues. His column, “The Bar-On Brief,” runs every other Tuesday.