Earth on Fire: The Overheating Planet

Earth on Fire: The Overheating Planet

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Tuesday, 4 October 2005

'SAVING' SUNLIGHT

[See the 2008 footnote at the end of this post]

This is the time of year when New Zealand once again begins 'daylight saving.'Interest rates are going up, so now we can get a much better return on what we save. With care we might make so much extra daylight that we will get to live an extra year or two. If, that is, Inland Revenue doesn‘t get us for darkness evasion and zap us with a penalty payment. Then we will drop dead before our time. Doh!

Seriously, it is amazing what the choice of a term can do. 'Daylight saving' was accepted with hardly a murmur. It sounds so positive, so noble, so doing-my-bit right. But what it really is is mass compulsory early rising. You are all ordered by Parliament to get up an hour earlier for the next six months whether you like it or not. That would not have sold. Big Brother is waking you. No, but sugar the pill with marketing mythology, with a meaningless assembly of words, and everyone meekly swallows it.

Would that we had the same attitude to saving the planet. Save it, or else. Yessir. Now sir. Three bags full sir. We are willing and eager to jump to it to 'save' some daylight, while we let the planet go to hell in a handbasket and us with it.

But we saved some daylight we cry as we get buried under yet another Force 5 hurricane, yet another drought, yet another metre of rising ocean.

Then there's the far-from-small matter of messing up our circadian rhythms twice a year--i.e., getting ourselves out of sync with the planet in our own bodies and brains (see Science Daily in 2007.) Out of sync with reality too.

When daylight saving first began here a woman phoned a Christchurch talkback show to complain that the extra sunlight was fading her curtains. Which sums up the amount of sense there is in how we think of the planet.

We think we control it. We think we can define when midday comes. It comes, we declare, when the big hand and the little hand are on the twelve, and we decide when that is. Scientific rubbish: it comes when the sun is at its zenith. What we do with our puny clocks, with any of our puny technology makes not a jot of difference to a single universal truth. The physical universe does what it does. Which includes an equal and opposite reaction to our every action. We trash the planet. It trashes us.

'Save' the daylight. Damn the planet. Yessir.

In October 2008 ScienceDaily published Swedish research that shows the incidence of heart-attacks rises in the first week after 'daylight saving' comes into force. So now we know the price of this habit.

'Save' the daylight. Kill a few people while you are at it. Yessir.