Saturday, August 09, 2014

End time zones?

The video above from Vox is a shortened version of their post, “The case against time zones: They're impractical & outdated”. It’s an interesting idea, but one I’m unlikely to champion.

Time zones create very peculiar situations, such as, planes landing at a time that’s “before” they took off. Or, as I wrote about in one blog post, a day can entirely disappear.

Having one global time zone would certainly simply international online or teleconference meetings, and would make it easier to work out arrival and departure times for international air travellers. Militaries that operate globally often use one time standard to synchronise their global activities better.

However, living in a global timezone would mean a major adjustment at the time of the switch. For example, someone in New York City who now gets up at 6:30am local time would be getting up at 10:30am GMT. While that might not sound too hard to get used to, it would be far worse for us on the opposite side of the world from London: Our 6:30am rising time would become 18:30—6:30pm.

Obviously, perhaps, clocks would have to be 24-hour, since “a.m.” and “p.m.” would no longer be relevant in a world with one global time. But it would still take awhile to learn that what a particular time has represented to us our entire lives—a point in the day or the night—is suddenly a completely different time of day—maybe even the exact opposite of what it was, as would be the case for New Zealand.

This would be a problem at the time of conversion, but within a few years, people would eventually get used to the new reality. But, is the convenience of a single time for a global economy really worth the pain of adjustment for the globe’s people? I don’t know that it is—at least, not yet.

Still, maybe if I thought about it some more I could see reasons why a switch could be good. Right now, though, I just don’t have the time, and that’s true in all timezones.


rogerogreen said...

1. Americans would never buy into it; too weird And complicated - change contracts for start times of shifts, et al. 2. It would make Daylight Saving Time REALLY complicated 3. I'd always wake up my sister in California because I wouldn't remember what time it is.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

I don' think it's possible for the USA to adopt a 24-hour clock, much less a single world time—all those conspiracy theories about "one world government" would suddenly become mainstream.

One thing I've noticed is that the places where I've seen this discussed have been silent on Daylight Saving Time, and I think I know why: A single global time would make seasonal clock changes impossible because the seasons are opposites in the Northern and Southern hemispheres. If the entire globe made seasonal time changes at the same time, it means that one hemisphere or the other would be disadvantaged.

So, it seems to me, then, that one strong thing in favour of the proposal is that it would be the end of Daylight Saving Time. That would make some people at least think about the larger proposal.

rogerogreen said...

I HATE DST, or BST or whatever. And you're right about the "one govt" railings!