High Noon For Daylight Savings Time

The US Senate has approved the “Sunshine Protection Act”, a bill to make Daylight Saving time the default time and do away with the annual time changes. While I can get behind the latter half of this motion, redefining Daylight Saving time as Standard time is, in my opinion, nonsense.

It’s particularly funny timing, coming right around the Vernal Equinox, when the sun stands at its highest right at Noon Standard Time, to be debating calling this time “one PM” forevermore.

Right Idea, Wrong Time

Let’s do a quick overview of the good idea here — doing away with time changes. These are known to cause sleep disturbances and this leads not just to sleepy heads on Monday morning, but to an increased risk of heart attack and accidents in general. When researchers look into the data, it’s the “springing forward” that causes trouble. People who’ve slept one extra hour don’t seem to suffer as much as people who’ve lost one. Go figure.

So maybe it makes sense to stop changing times. If we’re going to settle on one standard time, do we pick Standard time or Daylight Saving time? Admittedly, this is a totally unfair way to pose the question, but there are a number of good reasons to prefer all-year Standard time. The biggest one is winter. Basically, it’s already tough enough to get up on a cold January morning when the sun is not due to rise for another hour or two. Add another hour of darkness on top, and you know why the two previous attempts to run all-year Daylight Saving were short-lived. And why the Swedes drink so much coffee.

France-002886 – Sundial” by archer10 (Dennis) CC BY-SA 2.0.

There’s also the fundamental logic behind our measurement of time that’s stood for centuries, and is embedded in most of our cultural references to time. Ante Meridian and Post Meridian. High Noon, when the hour hand on the clock points straight up, represents the sun itself. But even before clocks, the sun’s halfway point along its daily journey marked the halfway point of the day. That’s not only why we eat lunch when we do, it’s the origin of man’s time-telling itself.

If we change the definition of noon permanently, we’ve decoupled time from the sun. How will we explain time to future children? I’ll accept Daylight Saving time when we start reprinting analog watches with 1 o’clock at the top and start referring to 12 AM as the one that’s just before the sun reaches its peak. As soon as “one noon” replaces “twelve noon”, I’ll get on board. Midnight, when the clock strikes one, just doesn’t send the same shiver down my spine. Sorry, Dracula.

If culture and physics point to Standard Time, why would you want Daylight Saving to be the new normal? When people think of Daylight Saving, they naturally think of those nice long summer days that stretch out into the night. My personal bet is that many folks are confounding summertime with Summer Time. Heck, even the name of the bill proposes to protect sunshine itself, rather than just move the hands of the clock around. These are not good reasons.

The Economics

The good reason behind the Daylight Saving time proposal — indeed, the original reason — is to save energy. And this probably made intuitive sense in the 1950s, when a significant amount of energy was spent on lighting. But nowadays, when non-sleeping people are running the air conditioning even if their lights are still off, it’s not so clear. For the longest time, there were no empirical economic studies of Daylight Saving, until 2008, when there were, and when the situation remained not entirely clear.

In 2007, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 came into effect, and America’s Daylight Saving time was extended by a couple weeks on one side, and a couple days on the other. And while it was a mild inconvenience for normal folks to remember the new dates, this sort of change in a system is an economist’s dream. In a field where running country-scale experiments is forbidden, these sort of external changes offer the next best opportunity to figure out how things work. Something changed in the system, what are the results?

The US Department of Energy (DOE) put out a report to Congress in 2008 (PDF) analyzing the national effect of the change. They note a savings at night that slightly outweighs an increase in energy demand in the mornings, in summer. They also note that there are increased savings in March compared to November. Their conclusion was that there was a 0.5% daily energy savings attributable to Daylight Saving. All in all, the new policy saved the US 0.03% of annual energy demand. Not exactly overwhelming, but not nothing.

Another empirical economic study of Daylight Saving time came out in 2008. This paper was based on household-level evidence from Indiana, which had the peculiarity that Daylight Saving was implemented on a per-county basis both before and after the 2007 national change. Some counties switched to DST, some switched from DST, and some didn’t switch at all. This let the researchers do a much more direct comparison of “treatment” and “control” groups across counties; they chose Indiana because it was the perfect natural experiment. Their fine-grained dataset also allowed them to break down the overall energy consumption into a few categories. They found a 1% daily increase in energy use. As you’d expect electricity for lighting dropped, but was more than compensated for by heating and cooling.

Both of these studies agree that Daylight Saving time actually increases energy consumption starting some time in the early fall. And while neither of these studies were aimed at answering the right question — if we extended DST through the winter, what would happen? — they both suggest that it would be the opposite of saving. Making Daylight Saving time permanent won’t save energy. And depending on which of the two studies you believe, getting rid of it entirely might.

What to Do?

So if you asked Aristotle, he’d side with me. Noon is when the sun is at its highest, and the planets orbit in perfect circles. (OK, scratch that.) If medicine points toward running only one time standard, then astronomy as well as linguistic, horological, and cultural tradition all point toward Standard time as the right choice. The economic effects are probably not all that significant one way or the other, and will probably depend on future relative efficiency gains in lighting versus air conditioning. (Good luck predicting that.) All I know is that Daylight Saving messes up my sundial right now.

But how am I going to sell undoing Daylight Saving time to people who think they’re literally “Saving Daylight” or “Protecting Sunshine”? To people who’ve heard that DST saves energy their whole life, whether it’s demonstrably true or not? To people who confuse longer days in the summer with lies about the funny numbers on a clock? Fool’s errand.

101 thoughts on “High Noon For Daylight Savings Time

  1. Don’t forget, there was an earlier change. In the late seventies or early eighties, the clocks changed earlier, the last Sunday of October as I recall. It impacted Halloween. I think the spring date changed a bit too, but it’s been some time.

    The time changes have never bothered me. Actually it’s a good marker. A level of coziness in the fall, a brightness to mark the coming of spring.

    1. You must not work in the energy industry where it is a headache. Accounting wise you have to account for every hour of imports and exports…. And twice a year we have ‘odd’ number of hours … 23 one day and 25 the fall change. Seems like we are always reworking some data or program that did something wrong, or received wrong from some other entity. Also we field time stamp alarms coming from substations. There is always a few clocks out there that don’t change time correctly causing maintenance time to fix. So for me…., can’t wait to be on a ‘single’ time standard!!!!

      I do wish the government stuck with ‘standard time’ though. Let businesses make the decision to change their hours if they desire. We have ‘flex’ hours here (come in at 7,8,9), so the employee can make decision where he wants ‘extra’ time.

      Either way, can’t wait for a fixed time.

      1. Exactly this! If I want to have longer summer evenings I’ll just quit working at 4. The times that office hours were set in stone are long, long passed. Welcome to the new millennium

        1. Not everybody has work flexibility, we’re lucky. The 9-5:30 and similar schemes are alive and strong, even if Covid weakened them. If I were still working retail, I’d be delighted by having solar noon at 1pm.

          1. But it still could work. Businesses could say on March 1, everyone comes in one hour earlier for the next 7 months. What problem would that be in retail? Or a state could dictate that as well, but in no ways does the base time change. Just when people go to work. If retired, who cares :).

    2. “Daylight Savings” time has always been backward/ Why are we “saving” daylight WHEN THERE’S MORE OF IT? We should be saving daylight in the winter.

      I agree that we should stay on “standard” time. Saying on DST is ignorant. So of course, that’s what Congress goes for.

      1. DST simply moves a sunlit hour in the morning to the evening, where, in theory, people can enjoy it more in the summer. Maybe it should be called “Daylight Shifting Time.” With “Saving” I’ve always expected a little interest in return (maybe an hour and 5 minutes back in the Fall).

      1. As a Swede, yeah there is a lot of coffee. Its a culture thing along with fika and being addictive. But winter mornings are not the reason for coffee for most of us. There is probably more coffee consumed in summer than in winter.

        During winter, the sun rise at about 09 and most normal work have started at 7 or earlier, which means leaving for work even earlier. School is the same. Yes. Retail and some office work is later. Most common workday is still 07 to 16. So going to work will be 2-4 hours before sunrise. Going home will be in the dark too. For us permanent summertime would mean that for most of year, we would have another hour of sunlight after work, and that is important, because that is when you do stuff outside of work, or children play after school.

        Lunch is a word thats infected Swedish. It used to be called ‘middag’, literally ‘midday’ in old Swedish. Dag = Day. Still, going by lunch as the normal for the big meal in the middle of the day is quite modern. People used to work for many hours at the farm and then eat the first meal at about 10-11.

        Without knowing south, its very hard to figure out when the sun is at its highest point if its in a high arc. Its very inexact, and it drifts about +/-15min four times a year. Sunrise and Sunset is historically easy to tell. The day was divided in 12 hours day, and 12 hours night before there was watches. When the first clocks were made, they literally reset the watch, and changed its speed, each sunrise and sunset. That’s why pendulum clocks too a while to be seen as good. They were much harder to change in speed. But farmers knew how much a shadow moved during the day. It didn’t matter much as they worked all day and didn’t matter exactly when they ate. Factory work did. Partly due to shifts.

  2. “do we pick Standard time or Daylight Saving time”? I’m nervous about government picking the answer … out West in CA time of use energy costs are biased. Daylight savings cost me more $$!

  3. *shrug*. Ending the time change is still better overall no matter which side of noon ends up being chosen. The advantages of one side or the other mainly stem from cultural inertia such as the notion of the “9 to 5” or core business hours.

    And time zones are already sufficiently large and irregular to make the sun’s apparent position in the sky relative to what the clock says quite irrelevant to most people.

    Time is a human convention so let’s celebrate this small opportunity to overcome our self-inflicted pain. And besides, it’s unclear whether this legislation has any chance of passing the House so it may all amount to nothing.

  4. The Greenwich meridian crosses Spain and thus here we shall have GMT time. But as decided by the old dictator during WW2 we have GMT +1 (as Berlin) during standard time. Then in spring we apply DST, having noon at 2PM (14:00). You know, Spain is different…

    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHIQxVhruak

      When we got DST for the 1st time while I’m alive (@1980) I glued a GMT reminder to my watch and used that instead for a year. Back then I heavily was into listening short wave stations, so it made sense for the hobby too. I forgot why I stopped that after one year.

      When the internet gained traction I turned into a netizen and am heisenberging around, so again GMT/UTC makes more than local time for me for a long time now. Just my mobile phones run on local time for some strange reasons, my navi seems to obey the installed card set more than it’s owner and insists on CET without DST all year and I sure somewhen will build a DCF77 receiver which can be switched to UTC!

      Time zones suck, DST even more.

      Let’s do all business stuff in UTC and local stuff in real local (biorhythms matching sundial) time!

  5. The ramifications of this is also geographical, as in some places the flipping back and forth of time has a profound effect of how much Sunlight is visible at certain fixed times. I cannot speak for everyone, but when it is dark out I am certainly less energentic/ more sleepy than when the Sun is out and so the shift backward during Winter is very much welcomed. In the Spring the perceived extension of more Sunlight during one’s waking hours is also beneficial.
    Lastly, given the World’s issues I have to ask why are we wasting time on this when there are far more pressing matters that deserve far more of our attention. It would seem that there are those that have too much time on their hands to focus on these relatively minor issues.

    1. I’m glad to know that for you “These are known to cause sleep disturbances and this leads not just to sleepy heads on Monday morning, but to an increased risk of heart attack and accidents in general.” is not a big issue, but I’m sure all those dead or injured people would think otherwise.

      I definitely agree with this part of your argument though: “I cannot speak for everyone”

      1. Nice snarky reply… My point is/was is that there is not a one size fits all argument. As for increased risk of heart attack… one would need to review the stats to see what the probability is. If an increased risk of hearty attack was a decision maker then a lot of food, events, etc would also be excluded. Cherry picking a stat to suit one’s argument is not much a defence.

        1. Those numbers should be verified and taken with some Kg of salt. If waking up one hour earlier kill so many people, than changing work hours, moving to some place more distant from work so that they need to wake up earlier, etc, would kill them also. And that “research” seems to be used just to bash the DST matter.

          And if the problem is lack of one hour of sleep, well, you go to sleep one hour earlier before the day of the change.

      2. The people that die from a heart attack because the clock was moved an hour were likely to die soon anyway. Kids biking to school in the dark have an increased risk too. Adding an extra hour of darkness in the morning will have a price, we just don’t know it yet.

        1. “The people that die from a heart attack because the clock was moved an hour were likely to die soon anyway.”

          That’s dumb. Sounds kind of like smoker or anti-vaxer logic. I don’t think anyone is saying that people keel over and die solely because of DST. It’s just another stressor on the body that accumulates over a lifetime along with many others that make the heart attack come sooner.

          No doubt anything that has such an effect also reduces one’s overall health during life and thus reduces the enjoyment of life even during the slightly reduced lifespan they are left with. Thus any “but we all die some day” argument is a load of bull.

  6. The US back in the 70s eliminated daylight savings time for a couple of years in the energy crisis then. People thought it was a great idea to do so. After a couple of years a majority of people hated it, and it was repealed. Parents didn’t like kids going to school when it was still dark out. So have we not learned anything from history? Guess not.

    1. I keepo seeing that argument against DST, but haven’t seen any statistics. As far as I can tell, dark is dark. What difference does it make whether they go to school when it’s dark or they go home when it’s dark?

      There are probably fewer drunks on dark roads in the morning than late in the afternoon, so the kiddies are probably safer going to school in the dark.

    2. Can you explain further? Being on Daylight Saving Time year-round makes a nighttime start to the school day more likely, and the effect is stronger, the farther north you go. Even in Seattle, permanent DST will put sunrise near or after 9am for several months of the year.

      1. In the winter, Seattle is dark at 9 am and at 5 pm, the day does not even last eight hours. It’s going to be dark for one commute regardless of what you do to the clock. Wow it sucks to live there.

        1. You’re pretty close, but not quite: here in Seattle I’ve never seen it still dark at 9 am (unless accounting for cloud-cover). I picked a recent day in the dead of winter to test the theory: sunrise on December 21 was at 8:53 am, and sunset was at 5:19 pm. That would make it seem like you’re correct, but for two issues. One, you must realize it isn’t dark just before sunrise, or just after sunset. Here in WA state the driver license test even covers that data regarding headlight usage (headlights must be on if it’s 30 minutes or more before sunrise, or if it’s 30 minutes or more past sunset). Secondly, the day I selected to test, Dec 21, 2021, happened to be the winter solstice. That means on the shortest day of the year, the “day” or daylight lasted at least from roughly 8:23 am to 5:49 pm (roughly 9.4 hours).

      2. The change in the ’70s wasn’t to eliminate DST, it was to use DST year-round (eliminate standard time, in other words). It was to do what the Senate recently passed. That’s what caused the children going to school in morning darkness, and that’s why it was repealed.

        I don’t know whether it will be enacted again this time, but i predict that, if it is enacted, after a couple of winters, the cries to repeal it will be overwhelming, and it will be repealed once again.

        And programmers will curse the legislators who caused them to change their time zone algorithms twice in such a short time.

      1. Why stop at schools? This is one argument I’ve always supported against DST.

        No business or other entity is forced by law to open and close at a specific time. So DST doesn’t force people to use less electricity or get us home from work during daylight or whatever the morning people’s favorite excuse is to make us all get up earlier this decade.

        Every business opens and closes at the time the business owner wants it to.

        So if being earlier in the summer is such a great thing just make your summer hours earlier! Plenty of stores have seasonal hours.

        While they are at it maybe instead of winter/summer hours maybe different hours for every season would be better. That way they could change in 1/2 hour gradations instead of moving by a full hour. (obviously I’m talking about businesses changing their schedules, not changing the clock in 1/2 hour increments). Maybe changing by only 1/2 hour wouldn’t hurt so damn much.

        Or maybe that would make it worse since it means changing twice as many times per year. I don’t know.

    3. This is incorrect. The change, which was meant to ease electricity usage by having us turn lights on later in the evening, was to NOT change back to standard time in the winter. At least, I HOPE this isn’t a case of the Mandela effect.

    4. No, we really haven’t learned from history.

      But you can’t do that without reading it, either. :) I linked the Washingtonian’s writeup of the Nixon DST experiment above — it enacted in Jan 1974, was due to run two years, but was repealed in Oct 1974.

      Some of this was anti-Nixon sentiment, to be sure, but the rest was the tremendous public reaction during the few winter months that it was actually in force.

    5. “The US back in the 70s eliminated daylight savings time for a couple of years in the energy crisis then.”

      No, the U.S. went to *year round DST* in the 70s. And no one “thought it was a great idea”. So it is YOU who have learned nothing from history, not even history.

    6. Indiana did _just fine_ in the decades that we didn’t have daylight savings time until they passed that law in 2005 and put us on it in 2006. Everyone else would do just fine too.

      The only thing I’d be upset about is standardizing on the wrong time. They need to pick standard time, not the fake daylight savings time.

    1. You’ve got my vote. The thing about this particular bill, as I read it, they’re leaving it up to individual states to decide which time standard they go with. Now, I’m all for states rights, and I’m *NEVER* the guy who thinks the federal government should do anything, but that, is, honestly, an AWFUL idea. Imagine living in one state and working in another, both in the same timezone, but each state chose a different standard…..

      1. You can just check the time on your phone, it will geolocate and provide the proper tz offset for your location, no confusion necessary. You can even add another city to your clock and display both of them, zero confusion.

        Perhaps one should think of the solar cycle as the primary timekeeper and the clock time is just some random arbitrary government thing. When someone asks the time you can say “the sun came up three and a half hours ago”

    2. I’ve been saying this for over twenty years. Split the difference and leave it that way year round. I do admit it would cause complications between time zones inside and outside the country.

  7. Save a thought for people in China. China runs one time zone, based on Beijing. All schools and government offices open at the official time. Even if you’re in the opposite side of the country, about 3-4h out.

    1. The US occupies many more time zones than china does. In particular the time in Hawaii is very different from mainland time. You’d be telling Hawaii folks to go to work at 2am and go to bed at 3 pm. The tourists would be hopelessly confused.

      1. Well, officially at least. The west is essentially kinda oppressed as it’s where more of the “terrorists” (minority groups) are, so Beijing can be an ass to them.

        But there can be a big difference between what happens officially and in practice, and even official interpretation and application of laws from town to town and definitely from region to region.

        But yes, the government does very stupid things. A client of mine runs a kindergarten out there and they ask me to “turn off the website” as the school is closed during the long holiday – government told them to. Which is obviously stupid and annoying for them as they can’t advertise to parents during the holiday. Some years they don’t bother, some years they comply. I think a lot depends on local politics, who-you-know, and face (being seen to do the right thing and not offend important people) is very important.

  8. The UK also had one or two years in the early 70s which were stuck on DST. The mornings were absolutely horrid and the evenings little better than if they’d been GMT.

    Britain /invented/ this stuff dammit, which is why The Meridian runs through Greenwich rather than Florence. And even the timing of the Moon landings are in UTC to which GMT is closely aligned. So when I periodically hear one of our parliamentarians talk about using BST (the UK’s DST) year-round I invariably wonder if he remembers the late 60s and early 70s.

  9. Having lived in Canada and also the deep South of US, I see daylight savings differently from the perspective of a northerner than from the perspective of a southerner. In the north, things go from almost no light except in midday, to having long evenings of being able to work and play outside. In the south, it doesn’t make the same kind of dramatic difference. In the winter you wake up and its still dark. Then finally, just as you are starting to wake up to a sunrise, the daylight savings time plunges you back into morning darkness for another couple of months. Meanwhile, the light gained in the evenings is not very much, I mean it always gets dark pretty early, either as you just get home from work in winter, or else about two hours after you finish supper. It also matters how far east or west you are located within your timezone. These factors, how far you are north or south of the equator, and far east or west you are within your timezone, affect what kind of benefits or drawbacks you experience from changing the time or leaving it constant. We’ll likely never all want the same thing.

    1. Europe agreed to do away with time changes in 2019, as soon as we reach consensus on which time to stay on. Granted, they’ve had other things to think about, but reaching consensus on this one is just as tricky as you’d think.

      Paris and Vienna probably _should_ be two time zones apart, but they’re in the same one.

  10. Indiana, a temporal anomaly! Right out of Dr. Who. For a couple of decades we stayed standard. Summer-Central-Chicago, easy to remember. Then came Mitch Daniels forcing the change where we can call it DST, Daniels Stupid Time.

    One study of our public utility records showed while we were normal year round we had a 5 to 7% decrease in energy use in summer compared to other states. Funny to see that mess down-state, I didn’t know it was that complicated. We were originally on Central time many years ago and the age of live network TV I believe was responsible for the change. The whole western half of Indiana will have to become as fragmented as the southwest. Noon here is close to 2PM. I have gone GMT before and may again, or how about sidereal time!

    In a word there is a reason that legislatures are putting around with this. GOLF!

  11. The Sun/Noon argument is idiotic, in what universe do you live where the sun is at it’s highest at 12? None, thanks to time zones you will always be slightly off. If you’re going crazy, go full crazy, have the hours of the day expand and contract based on the time of year and have your noon adjust based on your GPS location. Good luck working in a global economy at that point, but at least your noon will be noon.

    I currently go to work in the dark during summer and winter, switching to Daylight Savings Time all the time allows me to get more sun after work than I do right now. It a win for me with no downsides. The switching twice a year needs to stop, people need to stop trying to ruin this change.

    1. I say we go full crazy the other way, one global time! Never again will you have to worry about timezone differences when scheduling a conference call with someone in Japan. Gone are the frustrations of changing time on road trips. Mixups on happy hour times are a thing of the past! (well, maybe not that last one)

      But seriously, no one is open for ‘normal business hours’ anymore. What difference does it make if the sun comes up at 7 or at 18?

      Then again, we can’t even get metric to stick in the states, so I’m not hopeful for any ‘intelligent’ decisions ever.

      1. I’m on team UTC. Let everyone figure out when to get up open up and close down. Display noon or sun up sun down times at airports and train stations. But if we can’t have this I’ll take not making a time change.

    2. There most certainly are places where the sun is directly overhead at 12 noon but those places are different every day.

      Is there some sort of problem with acknowledging that there are multiple clocks at play? If you are a farmer you have to deal with the solar clock for your crops and the government clock for your customers. It’s not a difficult concept.

    3. Now that we all have smart phones and watches your geolocation noon can be set to the actual high point of the sun. It would play hell with travel schedules but these can be auto calculated and communication like TV etc can be streamed now. Need for time zones arose when trains and telegraph came into being. If there is an event that you want to watch live in a different area you can set your smart phone or smart watch to notify you.

      1. Except that then your local time frame would change as you move. That meeting in the office you have the next day? That would be at 12:02pm if you’re at home but 12:03pm if you’re in the office across the city. Your phone time would be constantly speeding up or slowing down as you traveled east or west. And you’d never be able to know what time you needed to leave to arrive somewhere, because its time and your time would be subtly different, and there would be a third amount of time of how many minutes it took you to travel.

        I know Einstein said time is relative to your frame of reference, but acting like it isn’t makes our lives so much easier. Time zones are the worst way of dealing with time except every other way which could be tried.

        1. People who show up late get what ever the people who were there early left behind. Teaches you to be early. If you get your tights in a twist about having to leave early to drive east across town for a meeting there is no hope for you Sam. Driving home (west) would bring you back a minute early.

          If I am in Indianapolis and want to have a 2:00 pm meeting I would simple append the longitude. Folks anywhere could have it on their calendar and it would automatically calculate their time for their longitude. No different than having to append EST , CST, MST or PST. Still have to work late to have that early AM call with Japan or Australia. Calendar should be hooked to GPS.

          If noon was actually noon everyone would be in a better mood.Though in summer having sunlight at 9:30 pm in Indianapolis is nice.

  12. If we’re going to decouple timekeeping from the day/night cycle, eliminating DST is only a half step. The two-thirds step is to get rid of time zones entirely and use UTC everywhere.

    Objections to that are basically the same as the ones to eliminating DST: on one hand people don’t like beginning their wake/sleep cycle in the dark, and on the other hand businesses don’t like changing their hours to match the seasons.

    The full step is to ignore the diurnal cycle entirely and run all business on UTC everywhere. All the arguments about the availability of electric light during the dark hours apply equally well, and there would be obvious advantages to having business in sync all the way around the world.

    And with that we could stop futzing around with partial measures and have useful conversations about the human/social connection to the diurnal cycle.

    1. The advantage of local time is that every bank can say that they open at 9 am and everyone knows that the bank will be open if they show up at 9. With UTC banks will open at different hours and you will have to check their web site to see when they open.

  13. I would rather have one more hour of sunshine for my hobbies in the evening than early sunshine in the morning, that i cannot use and i just get forced to wake up too early by the light.

  14. I have to deal with DST-related programming issues almost every year, while also low on sleep. Kill it, I don’t care how. We can adjust societal expectations on waking hours and working hours after we stop screwing with the clock.

  15. Oh course it would be to much to ask for every one in the world to just be on UTC time :) and stop the debate all together right? After all, ‘time’ is just a number and so what if noon is around 18:00 hours in your area. Or go to work at 12:00 hours. Seems simple enough …. Only it messes with what ‘day’ you are in is a bit… But hey, probably get used to that too :) . Nothing changes but how you look at time. No AM or PM, no time zones to deal with … just 0 to 23 hour UTC .

  16. With time zones, the concept of noon is already changed for the vast majority of people; Very few people use the sun to determine the exact time. Also, a.m. and p.m. refer to meridiem, or midday.

  17. “how am I going to sell undoing Daylight Saving time”

    You won’t. In 1999, I tried to explain to many well-educated people that the new millenium would actually start on 2001-01-01. A simple, easy to grasp and irrefutable fact. Yet the whole world partied one year too soon.

  18. Am I the only one who thinks the real solution is some geoengineering to adjust the precession of the Earth’s spin axis so that where I live is always summer and the rest of the world can sod off?

  19. The “Just Use UTC!” argument seems like a tempting way to cut the Gordian knot of time zones, but it doesn’t really work, because it doesn’t solve the fundamental problem of *why* we have time zones.

    Imagine you want to call your friend in Beijing. No problem, you think, because now we’re all on UTC! Except, you want to make sure you don’t call your friend while they’re asleep. So when are they asleep? Not 2200-0600 Beijing time, because Beijing time doesn’t exist anymore; they’re on UTC, just like you.

    So now you have to figure out when your friend goes to bed on UTC, which ultimately means you have to figure out when *people in Beijing* generally are awake and go to sleep, and you’ve now just recreated a Beijing time zone. It’s *labeled* UTC, but you’re ultimately still having to keep track of a distinct set of times for people in Beijing that they go to sleep, eat, go to work, etc.

    (Can’t remember where I read or saw this, so I’m paraphrasing)

    1. Except if you’re arranging a call (i think most do in this situation) you usually figure out together when works. You need to know their particular hours otherwise because maybe they are a late or early riser.

  20. Why all the fuss about DST when we haven’t had sense enough (in the US) to switch to the metric system?
    Time is just numbers. 24 hours? 60 minutes/seconds? WTF? While we’re worrying about DST, how about we consider a switch to base 10 time? 10 or 100 hours in a day, 10 or 100 minutes in an hour, 10 or 100 seconds in a minute!

    1. That’s perfectly logical, and fun to contemplate, but it will never happen.

      Time isn’t only used for looking at waches, making appointments and setting business hours, it’s used for measuring speeds and frequencies. Speedometers, tachometers, and radio frequency dials would need to be recalibrated for the decimal version of the second, minute, or hour. It’s not just speeds and frequencies, either. Power is defined as energy per unit time, so our present Watt is defined as a Joule per (non-decimal) second. And the Joule has units of time squared in its denominator, because it has units of force * distance, and force has units of time squared in its denominator. Units of force would change, as well.

      You could probably keep some units in terms of the “old second”, while using the “new second” for other things, but that’s hardly a simplification.

      Decimal time won’t happen because the present system has far too much inertia (which also has units of time in its denominator).

      1. “Speedometers, tachometers, and radio frequency dials would need to be recalibrated”

        To be fair, relativity comes into play at some point, anyway. So he isn’t absolutely wrong saying “Time is just numbers.” Fast moving objects cause Doppler effects and time dilatation, even if merely minimal. Likewise, gravity on earth varies at different locations. Even Einstein said “Time is what the clock says.”

    2. You did switch to the metric system. Just in a way that none of you noticed and is painfully compatible with the rest of the world. All your measurements are just silly coefficients for SI units.

  21. Time as we use it is a local definition and not a perfect fit for the modern era where everything got ‘closer’ due to ease of communication and transport.
    I vote for the stardate used by star trek ;)

    1. Hi! 🙂 Americans actually do at some point, I believe. In addition, their military uses or knows the metric system, even. Well, provided that watching A-Team and Stargate teached me properly. 😉

      But seriously, I mean, misunderstandings are their worst enemy, after all. So it makes sense that they do use ascending numbers. If people are sleepy or exhausted, counting is easier than thinking of AM/PM. Conversion between units (centimeter, meter etc) with a constant number, too.

      I suppose, it’s just the average Joe/Joanna that holds on to imperial system, maybe due to tradition or nostalgia.
      The more educated Americans who can read and write know both systems and can convert between both units*.

      Another thing holding them back are threads of screws etc. They’re not metric in America often and replacing them by metric types is too much work likely. And too expensive, considering how huge that land is.

      And then, there’s bureaucracy. Like in any other country. Just bigger, with even more “acts”. Let’s just look at what their senate did with NASA. Poor NASA is forced to build that silly SLS rocket. Which is more trouble than it’s worth, maybe.

      So it’s no wonder that these things won’t change soon.
      Let’s remember – their whole infrastructure is based on that anachronism. From the Empire State Building down to the sewers. :)

      (*I’m just kidding)

  22. No German here yet, to tell you the tale of an even more biased question:
    “do you prefer summertime or wintertime” they ask here.
    Yeah, totally unexpected outcome to see -_-

  23. I don’t see why more people aren’t on the side of the bill. I personally hate the depressing part of winter where its nice and sunny while im in a cubicle far from a window, then go home for it to seem like midnight at 5pm. God forbid I need to do something outside after work because I wont be able to see.

    I personally always call standard time “daylight wasting time”

  24. Clock noon is already not “high noon” for most people, due to the existence of time zones rather than pure solar time. While I agree you have a valid semantic point, in practical terms that ship has long sailed. And sunk.

    That being so, I honestly don’t care which offset from UTC we pick as long as it doesn’t change.

    The other objection, re hour in morning or evening, is bunk. It assumed that work schedules are as sacrosanct as Daylight Savings Time was. People can easily push the “nine-to-five” conventional workday (or 8-to-5, or 8:30-to-5:12 if you’re at IBM with a 42 minute lunch break because the accounting system works in tenths of hours) an hour forward or back to balance this as they see fit, and already do so. Farmers have always worked by sun rather than by clock; service industries have always set their hours to suit themselves and, to a lesser extent, their customers, and these days many jobs let employees set their own hours (except when micromanaged) and focus on productivity rather than hours spent at a desk. *All* the arguments for picking a specific time-zone offset are bogus.

    This is engineering, not science. Perfection is not an available option. Make a decision, commit to it, and don’t look back. If it’s not the best decision, it’s still good enough.

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