A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Is it time, to drop Standard Time?

In the beginning we set time based on the sun, if it was directly above our head, it was noon. This effectively gave all of us a balanced day-night ratio, however, travel a few miles east or west and the time changed. The idea of Standard time has been with us since, 1675, when Greenwich Median Time was introduced by the Royal Observatory in England. This was done to help mariners accurately determine longitude at sea, instead of using the ships home port time. This worked fine for a couple of centuries, however mankind insisted on finding faster ways to travel and communicate on land. This meant that having two cities one degree apart longitudinally would be 4 minutes different according to solar time. Well once Richard Trevithick built the first steam powered railway in 1804, things were getting complicated. It wasn’t long before people were arriving in the next town, only to find out they were time travelers, who had arrived a minute before they left the previous town.

Well this just upset the apple cart, can’t have the common folk travelling around through time, who knows what mischief they might get into. By 1847 the railway companies in England, decided enough was enough and adopted a standard time based on GMT. The days of time travel for the average citizen was fast coming to a close. It took a few years but on 2 November  1868 New Zealand decided to adopt a standard time, which was called New Zealand Mean Time, and it was set 11 hours 30 minutes ahead of GMT.

In North America the situation was a mess. Each city had it’s own time, and each railroad ran according to the time of it’s headquarters. So in some major cities served by several major railroads, you might find up to 6 clocks in the railway station. This was exactly the situation, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where a passenger might arrive at 4:05 pm according to the railroad, arriving at 3:50 pm local time, and have to catch a train 15 minutes later at 2:05pm, all on a Friday. In 1863 Charles Dowd proposed a system of one hour time zones, however it wasn’t until Sunday, 18 Novemeber 1883 that the railroads of the USA and Canada adopted a time zone system. This date is referred to in history, as the Day of  Two Noons.   A quick trip forward in time to 1879, and we find the idea of a worldwide set of time zones being advocated by Sir Stanford Fleming, a Canadian. By 1900 most nations around the world, had adopted the worldwide zone for it’s location, with Nepal adopting an offset in 1929.

A two time zone clock from http://electronicsusa.com/ck2.html

In 1972 time keeping went nuclear, and most countries adopted UTC, or Co-ordinated Universal Time, which is based on atomic time, and designed to keep the time accurate to within 0.9 sec of GMT. However since 1907 many countries have adopted Daylight Savings time to conserve energy, by moving the clocks ahead one hour every spring, and dropping back one hour in the fall. This was generally done on the Sundays closest to the Spring and Fall equinoxes. China which until 1949 had five time zones, now has one based on Beijing time.

With the increased emphasis on energy efficiency, in North America the time on Standard time has been reduced to approximately 3 months from the previous duration of six months. So my question is, should Canada, and the USA make the decision to stay on daylight savings time year around. This would make it easier on peoples biological clocks, and avoid the issues of the time changes twice yearly. Below is a chart to help you understand the current situation.

2 a.m. on the Second Sunday in March to
2 a.m. on the First Sunday of November.

Year DST Begins 2 a.m.
(Second Sunday
in March)
DST Ends 2 a.m.
(First Sunday
in November)
2007 11 March 2007 4 November 2007
2008 9 March 2008 2 November 2008
2009 8 March 2009 1 November 2009
2010 14 March 2010 7 November 2010
2011 13 March 2011 6 November 2011
2012 11 March 2012 4 November 2012
2013 10 March 2013 3 November 2013
2014 9 March 2014 2 November 2014
2015 8 March 2015 1 November 2015

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