My two cents on the daylight saving time

Written on March 22, 2009

Recently I stumbled upon this page that asks why cannot we just change the time we go to work instead of changing the whole time zone. There are also many people who think that the main DST advantage, reduced energy consumption, is an illusion [1].

Another observation is that, at least in Italy (hence probably everywhere), radio clocks are becoming standard. We can broadcast a centralized time setting to every family in a nation. So, from these two facts, one could easily see where I’m going: let’s start each day at dawn, with time 0:00!

Of course, this is not conceivable: days won’t last 24 hours anymore. So my humble and futile proposal is to have an official time (the one we are using now, without DST) used every time we need a day lasting exactly 24 hours; but routine human activities (like work, school, sports, …) can be started at “some time past dawn”. For example, schools can start every day at one hour and a half past dawn, so kids have time to go to school with sunlight no matter which month is.

One could think there could be adaptation’s problems since, as most human beings are concerned, days will last a bit more from December to June and a bit less from June to December. But this is not really an issue, for two reasons.

  • In Italy, for example, the earlier dawn is about at 4AM (not considering DST), while the last dawn is about at 7AM. Anyway, day by day the difference is no more than two minutes.
  • Sure, at Oslo the difference is between 2AM and 9AM, and maybe there will be some problem of adaptation. Anyway the simplicity of the system (having activities’ times regulated by a centralized radio signal) allows to set time 0:00 not necessarily at dawn, allowing milder differences on a day by day basis.

See also

  1. How much is time wrong around the world?
  2. Global time, emotional time, and the annoyance of DST
  3. The time it takes to change the time
  1. See Wikipedia: most studies put the energy saving from 0% to 1%.

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