30 March 2008

Mutter grump summer time mutter...

So, here we are again: British Summer Time. One of the two occasions in the year when everything (including my internal circadian clock) has to make a one hour adjustment. Two nuisance times. Forward an hour now, back an hour in the autumn.

Except that really it's more than twice. In the US, most places went forward a couple of weeks ago, so there are two adjustment dates in quick succession ... and, for that short period, time zone adjustments are 4/5/6/7 hours instead of the usual 5/6/7/8.

For the next few months, all my data communications will be on Zulu (GMT, UTC) time while the social, professional and otherwise human world around me is on BST. Which would be fine (no different from one more time zone allowance), except that it will then change back again and they will be in sync.

There used to be good business or economic reasons for this cumbersome apparatus. In the long summer days, it made sense to start work earlier – either to finish earlier or to get more production hours in. Daylight was cheaper than artificial light, so make the most of it. If it was still saving significant amounts of energy, I might be reconciled to it – but most commercial and industrial premises, these days, are so designed that they require artificial lighting anyway ... even if they're not operating on a 24 hour basis.

So, what do I want to be done about it? Well, I don't really care whether I'm on Zulu, BST, Central European Time, or something else entirely ... I'd just like to stay permanently on one of them and leave behind all this messing about. Zulu time has the virtue of consistency, and I am attracted to that. As an early morning person, I also like the light mornings. On the other hand, there is evidence that light evenings make more contribution to reduction in road casualties (especially amongst children). Seasonal Affective Disorder also seems to benefit from lighter evenings, so there are two good arguments for shifting permanently to BST – or even the two hours to get in step with most of Europe. I'm quite willing to accept any decision – so long as it then stays put, all year round, and does away with this twice yearly upheaval.

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