It is arbitrary, archaic and ridiculous.
Although changing our clocks twice a year may have had utility at one time—I’m not convinced it ever did, but for the sake of brevity, let’s say it did—now, it serves no purpose.
It’s a waste of time. Not literally, of course, there’s still 24 hours in a day. What we designate them is simply a convention we have developed for organizational reasons.
To his credit, B.C. premier John Horgan is now seeking public input on getting rid of the practice. It’s about time, but maybe it does not go far enough. Perhaps it is also time to eliminate time zones.
In horse and buggy days, every little town had its own standard time based on high noon. It made sense because human activity is roughly based around sunrise to sunset and it worked fine when it took half a day to get to the next town. Simply adjust your pocket watch when you arrive. But when trains came along, well, it just became a logistical nightmare.
Times change. Hence, time zones.
Again, it was an organizational measure based on our sunrise to sunset nature. Each time zone more or less represents one twenty-fourth of the duration of Earth’s rotation, or one hour. Does it really matter what we call those active hours?
A pair of professors at Johns Hopkins University, Richard Conn Henry and Steve Hanke, have proposed adopting a single time zone for the whole world.
Under their proposal, Greenwich England, home of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) would get to keep the 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday, while the rest of us would just shift according to our UTC offset. So, in Eastern Canada the workday would run from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Out here in B.C. it would be 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.
But the beauty of it is, it would be the same time everywhere, a much better facilitator of organization for our increasingly globalized world. It would also help us finally get around to adopting the 24-hour clock, which makes so much more sense than a.m. and p.m.
China, a country that used to have five time zones has already gone to a single zone. Canada should follow suit. Even though it might be lunch time in Toronto and breakfast in Vancouver, it would be noon in both places. Handy.
The professors also think we should fix the calendar while we’re at it. The problem with all calendars throughout history has been having to account for the irregular timing of our annual trip around the sun, which takes 365.2422 days.
The current calendar is a mess with different numbers of days in various months meaning every year dates fall on different days of the week. The calendar takes care of resynchronization by adding a leap day in February every fourth year. Under the Henry-Hanke calendar, all months would have the same number of days and every date would fall on the same day every year—talk about your boon to human organization, particularly accounting practices.
Resynchronization would take place every five or six years with an extra week at the end of December. Let’s call it a worldwide weeklong statutory holiday.
Personally, I would vote for all of the above measures, but if you are feeling envious of Greenwich in the single time zone scenario, perhaps you’re not ready.
At the very least, though, B.C. can finally be done with the silly practice of springing forward and falling back every year. Take the survey on the Province’s website. Vote for time change change.
Now, the question becomes, do they have the question right? As it stands the proposal for B.C. is to adopt Daylight Time (DT) year round. In the summer, particularly in the north, it’s kind of a moot point. Right now, in Smithers the days are 17 hours long. But in winter, around Dec. 21, the shortest day of the year, they’re only 7 hours.
Being on DT on Dec. 21 would mean the sun would rise at around 9 a.m. and set at around 5 p.m. instead or 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. respectively. I guess it depends on whether you would rather drive to work in the dark, or drive home in the dark.