2019-10-29

Dropping summer time

It seems moves are afoot to stop the clock changes, and I rather like the idea.

The issue, for me, is that people talk of "permanent summer time" as the answer, sort of forgetting that the clocks are set based on lots of measurement at the Greenwich observatory and hence why we have Greenwich Mean Time. It is summer time that is the "anomaly" and it only makes sense to me to be on GMT all year.

This assumes stopping clock changes is a good idea, and that seems to be a matter of debate, but one which is leaning towards the idea of not doing it.

So, some thoughts on why, to my mind, it is obvious we stick to GMT all year.

The matter of definition

It is called GMT, and is generally the high sun at the middle of the day at 12:00. It would be crazy, IMHO, to have the mean time over Greenwich as Greenwich Mean Time plus one hour.

What would we call it?

We can't call it GMT and it makes no sense to call it BST as not only summer time. It won't be UTC if +1, so actually we need a new name. That is more of a pain that you realise as it is a lot of software and all sorts. UKT maybe?

It only matters in winter anyway!

In summer we have more than enough daylight. Yes, moving some "unused" daylight from early morning to evening is vaguely helpful, or was before the invention of street lights. But what matters is Winter.

We tried a permanent summer time in 1970 and it did not go well. We know GMT in Winter "works" well enough and fits around schools and so on.

Changing what we do in Winter (by making permanent UTC+1) would be way more problematic as we simply have less daylight to play with. Changing in summer (by stopping BST) is not an issue as we have daylight to spare, so to speak.

Give UK an advantage?

There are a lot of things that log in UTC, and confusion over UTC and local time happen all the time. Heck, even the Amazon app gets the order date wrong all summer because of this. BT get this wrong in their XML in lots of places. There is an advantage for the a country that stays on UTC+0 as their time zone as all UTC logs will be local time, and simpler for everyone.

Some have even suggested that UTC should be moved to the middle of the Atlantic so no country is UTC+0 and hence has any advantage. Let's give the UK that advantage.

23 comments:

  1. I've been advocating this for years. I despair when people want BST all year round (a contradiction in terms). GMT/UTC all the way! We invented time so let's take advantage of he he 😉

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  2. Hear hear! I find it unfathomable why there's a call to be on summer time all year around. GMT is the only true solution if we are to stop doing clock changes.

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  3. Scrap these funky unit divisions of 24 and 60 while we're at it... https://dotwaffle.wordpress.com/2017/08/28/metric-dates/

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  4. GMT is miserable if you enjoy outdoor activities. Burn it.

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    1. Schedule the activities when it is light, maybe?

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    2. Working somewhat gets in the way.

      If we're trying to get the country as a whole to be more healthy then that's not going to happen in the dark.

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    3. Move work to be an hour earlier then. In general I think we need to move away from everywhere being 9 to 5 and switch to more flexible hour that suit the local business or workers.

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  5. I just want us to pick one time and stick to it. Wastes a lot of time having to change it twice a year.

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  6. Split the difference and do GMT+0:30 ;)

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  7. Iceland cope well enough on GMT so I'm sure we'd manage!

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  8. I can't believe anyone would actually advocate staying at GMT. Anyone with any interest or need for outdoor activities outside a full-time job (yes, some of us have full-time jobs) need this extra hour of afternoon light as late in to the winter as possible.

    Going back to standard time stops me cycling after work, doing outside DYI/maintenance or car maintenance/repairs after work, the last month or two where grass-cuttting is still needed would have to be done over weekends.

    All these things I could enjoy or get out of the way during the week, all bunch up over the weekend that is supposed to be my relaxing time.

    I am guessing most people reading this blog are IT people who spend most of their time watching Netflix and not needing daylight?

    Even if you don't have any outdoor interests, just commuting to and from work is in the dark both ways during standard time, where at least going home would have a smidgen of daylight left.

    If you work in an office, you quite often don't see the daylight from your desk and your week just becomes eternal darkness. The clock change just gets me down every year. It's like going in to a tunnel I have to get through till I will be able to live again. It's just depressing.

    "We invented time so let's take advantage of he he 😉"

    This is exactly the kind of British full-of-yourself ignorance that got us Brexit :roll:

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  9. The basic error here is that time changes are a very minor fix to a much bigger problem: that we don't all work in factories any more.

    Most jobs most of the time don't need everyone to start and end at the exact same moment, but that's the model we're stuck with. As a result we get rush hours and overcrowding. Spread standard work start times over say 7-9, and end times over 3-5 (chopping off that extra half-hour that's lately become "standard" among bad employers), and you'd solve a whole lot more than "wah, I can't go for a walk in the evening".

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    1. 7am-3pm is effectively a half-day. No wonder nothing gets done in this country and everything takes forever!

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    2. I work 7 hours a day plus an hour for lunch. 7am to 3pm provides 8 hours which fits precisely. Except my employer won't allow anyone to leave every day as early as 3pm, regardless of how early they arrived.

      If you think 7am to 3pm is a half day then you need a better work/life balance. Working too many hours reduces productivity.

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  10. Permanent summer time is necessary because many people have normal 9 to 5 jobs. Permanent GMT would only be useful to them if they could vary their hours and work 8 to 4 and thus get usefully long evening light in summer. But most employers come up with excuses why they need everyone in the office at the same time. We can't fix that (quickly anyway), but we can go to permanent summer time.

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  11. When you say we have daylight to spare in summer you are forgetting spring and autumn, which are the parts of the year it really helps to be on +1.

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  12. I don’t care which time system they pick as long as pick one and stick with it. Other countries like India don’t have this faff twice a year.

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  13. As most of the UK is west of the 0 meridian, why is GMT even a candidate?

    But I do like the idea of no time zones and everyone planning their lives based on solar time.

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    Replies
    1. Because it is all within 7.5W to 7.5E that UTC logically covers!

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  14. Possibly the reason some of us advocate permanent GMT over permanent BST (although I have no problem with the current system) is that we're old enough to remember the previous experiment with permanent BST and how miserable it was.

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  15. I'd like BST all year round as with the current system in winter I am in a windowless office all week and it's dark when I arrive at work and dark when I leave - I only see daylight at the weekend.

    Bear in mind sunset is about 45 mins earlier in Ipswich than it was in Bristol where I used to live, so perhaps those of us in the east of England have a different view to those in the west

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  16. 45 minutes from Ipswich to Bristol? Hardly.

    The longitude of Ipswich is 1.1482 E whilst Bristol is 2.5879 W (spuriously precise figures from Google), making the difference between them 3.7361 degrees. That amounts to just under 15 minutes difference in sun time.

    The danger which I see in adopting GMT+1 all year round is that office times etc have been set in the light of our current system of daylight saving. If we're going to go to fixed time then the only sensible option is to go with geographic time, and adjust our days to suit. Otherwise in a few years time there'll be a campaign to switch to GMT+2, then GMT+3 etc. Far more sensible to make our clocks show time as accurately as possible.

    The fact of the matter though is that we've lost the old countryman's approach of letting ourselves be driven by the sun and instead go by mechanical (or electronic) clocks. Pre-railways, sunrise and sunset in the winter were the same times as sunrise and sunset in the summer, just closer together. Now 07:00 in the winter is regarded as being the same time as 07:00 in the summer, even though one is dark and the other is light.

    To take best advantage of the light, it would make sense if we all got up earlier in the summer - thus avoiding wasting all that early daylight. They do it in Austria, where a normal office day starts at 07:00, lunch at 11:00 and bugger off at 15:00 (or lunch time on Fridays).

    If offices (and other places of employment) can't manage that much flexibility then perhaps we could devise a system whereby the clocks are actually put forward by one hour in the summer (to make use of the early daylight) but left alone in the winter (when there's no saving to be made). Call me revolutionary, but I think it could catch on.

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    1. My bad, it is more like 15 mins. 45m was from memory the difference when I asked alexa what time sunset was sometime last year, apparently my brain is making stuff up!

      I start work at 0730 and finish at 1630, so given that I arrive at work about 15-20 mins early, I'm already at the time of year that I don't see the sun except at weekends.

      Were we on GMT+1, I'd get 15 mins before sunset on my drive home even in the middle of winter!!

      I'm not after more sun in summer, there is plenty of it in summer, it's the winter I don't like. I guess the proposal would be to work 0630-1530!!

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