Croman: Times are a-changin’, and not everyone’s OK with that

Sheridan resident

Another fall time change has now come and gone, but the semiannual grousing about it still lingers. So do the arguments for keeping it — or not.

The U.S. Department of Transportation oversees the nation’s time zones and its observance of Daylight Saving Time. On the agency’s website, you will find three arguments in favor: the saving of energy, prevention of traffic injury and reduction of crime.

It was created during the First World War as a means of conserving fuel. But is that still relevant? With modern electricity, we are relying on high-efficiency light bulbs, not candles or lanterns.

Even if you are particular energy conscious, this reason is virtually irrelevant.

We don’t turn the lights on when it gets too dark. We turn the lights on when we get home.

Why? Because we have work to do, and that means turning the lights on. It’s simple habit and expectation.

There are currently two states not observing Daylight Saving Time, opting instead for Standard Time. It would be interesting to see a study of how much difference it really makes, keeping in mind the yearly adjustment of getting an hour less sleep and retraining the body’s sleep cycle.

Thinking of time adjustments also brings time zones to mind. Their origin makes more sense, as the sun sets at different times across our round planet.

Back when all travel was done by foot or hoof, what time it was halfway around the world didn’t really matter. It was never an issue. But today, we are all connected. We work together more than ever before.

If you schedule a meeting with a client overseas, or need to talk to a traveling friend or relative, you have to do the math. “Let’s talk at 7 p.m.” raises the question, “My time or yours?”

Is it a big inconvenience? No, not really. But it is a constant, even if small, annoyance.

What if there were just one standard global time? Spring or fall, in New York, Beijing, Nairobi or the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the same time for everyone?

For some, a standard work day is the normal 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For some, it’s 2 to 10 a.m. For some, it’s 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. So maybe we should switch to a 24-hour clock and dispense with the confusion.

It would be perfectly normal for you to get up at 3 a.m. if that’s when the sun rises for you. For someone halfway around the world, it would be normal to get up at 3 p.m. — 1500 hours — as that’s when the sun rises for them.

That would certainly simplify scheduling a call or catching a ballgame, as the time would be the same on both ends, no matter where you were on the planet.

There would still be some things to work out logistically, as 0900 might fall in the middle of the day for you but the middle of the night for someone else.

But there would only be one calculation to make — what works best on both ends. It would be as simple as letting the other party know you’re available between 1300 and 0100, enabling them to choose something in that range that overlaps with their availability.

It would work. But it’s not likely to ever be implemented.

Why? Well, because it’s too much trouble. We’re already used to the way things are.

In fact, a standard global time already exists. It’s called Coordinated Universal Time, or UTC, and it’s only a Google away.

It’s not generally used, but who knows? Widespread agreements have been changed before. At the very least, it’s an interesting idea to entertain.

Zoe Croman lives and works in Sheridan. She is aspiring to become a professional writer.


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