What if we leap forward and never fall back? What permanent daylight saving time would mean for Alaska.


(Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)

Many Alaskans will be happy to hear that we are about to abolish the hassle of changing the clock every six months.

The US Senate passed a bill last week that would end the ritual of leaping forward and back.

A bill to make daylight saving time permanent passed by unanimous consent – that is, without an actual roll-call vote.

To hear U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., say it, staying on daylight saving time year-round will make kids smarter, neighbors nicer, and cats cuddlier. He says it will even make Congress work properly.

Liberals and conservatives “are coming together to show that this institution can work,” he said in an ambitious speech to the Senate. “And why is that? Well, it’s because we know daylight saving time helps turn the corners of people’s mouths into a smile. It’s sunshine and smiles.

Markey and other permanent DST evangelists describe it as allowing for more Little League games and yard maintenance because it “gives” people an extra hour of sunshine.

It doesn’t, of course. Daylight saving time can only provide an hour of evening light by borrowing it from the morning. And permanent daylight saving time would have unforeseen winter consequences in Alaska.

“Nome would have a sunrise after 1 p.m.,” observed Anchorage climatologist Brian Brettschneider. He spent a lot of time thinking about the angles of the sun and life in the North. Daybreak would be particularly late on the western edges of time zones, he points out. But Brettschneider said Alaskans already know all about sunrise at the end of winter.

“They’re used to it just being dark,” he said. “In the morning, when they get up. When they go to school. When they go to work. It’s just gonna get dark no matter what. And I think there are a lot of people who may be looking to get some afternoon daylight to compensate for that.

In Alaska, he said, permanent daylight saving time doesn’t bring as many benefits or come at such a high cost.

In the spring, as we gallop towards the summer solstice, we don’t need to put the clock forward to get more light in the evening. Wait a few days and the world will do it for us.

And the penalty of less morning light? As we crumble towards Christmas, we will lose daylight regardless. Nothing the government does with the clock can make it otherwise. The kind of daylight saving time that would help Alaska is to borrow an hour from June and give it to January.

“You know, the real solution is to change the axial tilt of the earth, and that solves everyone’s problem,” Brettschneider said.

But Congress can’t do that.

The most significant impact in Alaska of making DST permanent would be to spare everyone the ritual of resetting clocks twice a year.

Amanda Moser hates this ritual. She’s the executive director of the Anchorage Downtown Partnership, but years ago she worked as a waitress. She said she saw the bad side of the downturn Sunday in the drinking establishments.

“It’s very good that the bars are closing. People have to go home and stop drinking,” she said. “But on that day you get an extra hour at the bar. It’s dangerous. “

Moser cites research suggesting clock lag is associated with more heart attacks, strokes, and other illnesses. She would like to end it.

The bill that was passed by the Senate would take us forward one last time, next year, and then we’ll hold on.

Senator Lisa Murkowski totally agrees.

Senator Dan Sullivan’s office did not respond to an email request.

It is unclear whether the bill passed by the Senate will become law. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told ‘The Hill’ publication that she likes the idea, but has not committed to putting the bill to a vote in the House.

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