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Daylight saving time (DST) or summer time is the practice of advancing clocks during summer months by one hour so that evening daylight lasts an hour longer, while sacrificing normal sunrise times. Typically, regions with summer time adjust clocks forward one hour close to the start of spring and adjust them backward in the autumn to standard time.
New Zealander George Hudson proposed the idea of daylight saving in 1895. The German Empire and Austria-Hungary organized the first nationwide implementation, starting on April 30, 1916. Many countries have used it at various times since then, particularly since the energy crisis of the 1970s.
The practice has both advocates and critics. Putting clocks forward benefits retailing, sports, and other activities that exploit sunlight after working hours, but can cause problems for outdoor entertainment and other activities tied to sunlight, such as farming. Though some early proponents of DST aimed to reduce evening use of incandescent lighting—once a primary use of electricity—today's heating and cooling usage patterns differ greatly, and research about how DST affects energy use is limited and contradictory.
DST clock shifts sometimes complicate timekeeping, and can disrupt travel, billing, record keeping, medical devices, heavy equipment, and sleep patterns. Computer software often adjusts clocks automatically, but policy changes by various jurisdictions of DST dates and timings may be confusing.
Industrialized societies generally follow a clock-based schedule for daily activities that do not change throughout the course of the year. The time of day that individuals begin and end work or school, and the coordination of mass transit, for example, usually remain constant year-round. In contrast, an agrarian society's daily routines for work and personal conduct are more likely governed by the length of daylight hours and by solar time, which change seasonally because of the Earth's axial tilt. North and south of the tropics daylight lasts longer in summer and shorter in winter, with the effect becoming greater as one moves away from the tropics.
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