Spring forward? Fall back? I’ve got too much time on my hands!

As of 2 a.m. this morning Daylight Saving Time (DST) is again upon us — but does it really result in the “energy saving” benefits with which it has been credited?

No, say UC Santa Barbara Assistant Professor Matthew Kotchen, PhD and PhD student Laura Grant, both of the Donald Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at UCSB. (Sorry, Ben Franklin!). The pair wrote a paper aptly titled “Does Daylight Saving Time Save Energy? Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Indiana.”

News first broke of the paper in a February 27, 2008 Wall Street Journal article titled “Daylight Saving Wastes Energy, Study Says,” and has been spreading like wildfire ever since. A March 7, 2008 posting by the Bren School summarizes the paper and explains its impact as follows:

“The study, which Kotchen presented at the National Bureau of Economic Research earlier in February, tested decades-old conventional wisdom that daylight savings time saves energy and found that, in fact, it increase energy use between 1 and  4 percent.

Kotchen and Grant conducted their study in Indiana, which created an almost ideal, yet unintended, real-world experiment. Until two years ago, only 15 of Indiana’s 92 counties ‘sprang forward’ and ‘fell back’ each year. The rest remained on standard time year round.

In 2006, however, the Indiana state legislature passed a law mandating that the whole state adopt daylight savings time consistent with the rest of the United States. Working with Duke Energy Corp, the researchers were able to obtain more than 7 million meter readings for residential electricity use in Indiana before and after the change.

After crunching the numbers, they concluded that daylight savings time had added an extra $8.6 million to residents’ electricity bills. What is more, they estimate that the social costs of increased pollution emissions in Indiana range from $1.6 to $5.3 million per year.”

I have always been confused by daylight savings time — to me it always seemed we moved the clocks in the wrong direction at the given points in the year.

Kotchen and Grant present some compelling data in their paper — of course it remains to be seen if politicians, who are not known for responding to or even understanding, factual information, will do anything about this important discovery. Clearly it is a topic worth discussing and further researching.

PS: If you are curious about what time it is in different parts of the world check out www.timeanddate.com.

The good people at Bakersfield.com — the online equivalent of the Bakersfield Californian newspaper — caught wind of my recent post, “The Long and Winding (and Occasionally Snowed In) Road of Adjunct Teaching,” and made note of it in today’s “Bakosphere” column which details blogs about Bakersfield.  I guess somebody other than me actually reads this — I better start using spell check!

California: land of surf, sun, and… snow?

I took the photos below on the morning of Wednesday, January 23, 2008 between roughly 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. as I made my way North on Interstate 5 through the Grapevine portion of the freeway (the area between Gorman, CA and Lebec, CA). This was the start of what I believe was the first major storm of the season.

By 3 p.m. that same day, the California Highway Patrol closed the 5 between Castaic and the base of the Grapevine; it remained closed through a good portion of the following day. I had planned to stay in Bakersfield that night anyway so this development didn’t immediately affect me.

However, the continued closure of the 5 the next day, Thursday, January 24, 2008, necessitated my taking the “long way” home which I normally drove on Mondays to get to my class in Palmdale: the 58 Freeway East through Tehachapi — my “favorite” drive (the topography is beautiful; I feel as if I am driving through a train set!).

Here are pictures from my journey (click the image for a larger version):

Photo from the 5 North (the Grapevine) on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Photo from the 5 North (the Grapevine) on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Photo from the 5 North (the Grapevine) on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Photo from the 5 North (the Grapevine) on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Photo from the 5 North (the Grapevine) on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Photo from the 5 North (the Grapevine) on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Photo from the 5 North (the Grapevine) on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Photo from the 5 North (the Grapevine) on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Photo from the 5 North (the Grapevine) on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Photo from the 5 North (the Grapevine) on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Photo from the 5 North (the Grapevine) on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Photo from the 5 North (the Grapevine) on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Photo from the 5 North (the Grapevine) on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Once I cleared the Grapevine and began the descent into the valley below (the portion of the 5 just before the 5/99 split) I saw a full rainbow! It began roughly over the freeway a few miles ahead and actually seemed to end at an IKEA distribution warehouse!

Photo from the 5 North (the Grapevine) on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Photo from the 5 North (the Grapevine) on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I hope you enjoyed these photos — more to come soon!