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At need, to recall some basic definitions.
The argument of energy savings.
The economy arguments
The computers arguments.
|To live with the sun.|
Time (hour) is a way to recognize the various moments of a day, with naming them with a number. It is a convention. Other conventions are possible.
As days have a length which varies with the seasons,
an easy beacon is the middle of the day (Mid-day, middle of
the day) where the sun culminates, or the middle of the night
(mid-night). Starting from here, a division in 24 hours gives solar
time (table 1) or sun
time, which does not depend on the season, but only of the daily
path of the sun in the sky.
This solar time being unique to each point of the Earth, the globe was divided in 24 time zones, each with a one hour offset from the previous. The absolute reference is the TU Time (the exact solar time in the Greenwich observatory, near London, formerly known as Greenwich Time or GMT)
In several countries like France the legal time (table 2) has an offset with solar time, one hour in winter (winter time) and two hours in summer (daylight saving time). This has consequences on our real time, as we are submitted to the legal working time.
The today french winter time (German time zone) was imposed at the occasion of the invasion in 1940. Today french daylight saving time (time zone of Ukraine, Romania, Turkey...) was imposed by the president Giscard d'Estaing, in 1975.
As we can check on table 3 and Table 4, TO GET UP AT 8 IN DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME IS DEFINITELY THE SAME THING THAN TO GET UP AT 6 WITH THE SOLAR TIME. The difference is only THE NUMBER WE GIVE TO THE DIFFERENT MOMENTS OF THE DAY.
|Table 3 --- daylight saving time without changing working time|
|Tableau 4 --- changing working time without daylight saving time|
|Legal working time||Time with artificial light|
It clearly appears of these tables that to modify the working time, without changing the legal time, lead to exactly the same result than to introduce daylight saving time.
Any discussion which does not account with this elementary point, such as for instance «I like daylight saving time because we get up early», is marred with confusion: Really nobody forbids us to get up sooner with the winter time, or in solar time. If for instance we get up with the sun, we do not need to look at the clock for this. That it indicates 5 at daylight saving time or 7 solar time changes nothing.
And, should it be said, there is no parapsychology nor science fiction in the suppression or addition of one hour to the day. The matter is only to change the numbers of the moments of the day, without modifying the path of the Sun, nor that of time itself. No administration is able to really add or suppress time. Happily!
This part was completely rwritten in October 24, 2003
Initially, in France, daylight saving time was presented by the Giscard government as a mean to save energy, with the obligation made to everybody to work during the day, when there is no need of artificial light. (This lie is always used, see the official site of the ministère de l'industrie ). The question of the real efficiency of such a measure was examined by the french Senate, who is not really convinced. To begin, the Senate was excluded of the debate with a dubious pretext. (See their page). Then the figure of savings proposed by the ADEME (0,5% of the total consumption at that epoch, 0,3% today) would simply not account what is lost when people must get up earlier in the morning, and heat the houses after the night! (My daughter had to get up at four the Monday morning to go to school!). Especially in October, when the Sun rises later.
In facts the kind of measures which were taken at that time to «save energy» (such as to suppress the automatic door opening in airports, or to remove the lights of Christmas garlands!) were clearly types of gadgets, meaningless, just to give an image, just a bluff. It however was possible at that epoch to do significant energy savings, with transportation of merchandises by train and container, railroad highway (cars in trains, as in the Channel tunnel). As soon as this epoch it would have be possible to produce energy with offshore windmills, or with aerothermical power stations (as powerful as nuclear power plants, much cheaper, without any risk, like the one in construction in Australia) Today we speak of cracking oil (To continue to use fossil oil, but only the hydrogen fraction, which does not make pollution) and even the french Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique developed a process of cheap thermochemistry (to produce fuels from sun heat) but never did anything with it!! Because it would have made its nuclear power plants obsolete?
But, completely against these elementary common sense measures, they continued to promote the all-electric heating of houses, the all-highways transportation, both very expensive and energy intensive. Still today the various government which passed still not have any real energy policy, and continue to stray into suicidal dead ends (oil, nuclear power), continue to remove railways, or to promote a maximum waste: one-use packages, motorways, stupid opposition to containers, electric heating... despite the blatant emergency of dangerous climate changes (excess heat in 2003). So it is quite clear that energy savings were definitively not the true motive of daylight saving time, nor of its creation neither of its maintaining today.
But what left me aghast is that, while supposing that getting up earlier would really save energy, we could obtain exactly the same result with a modification of the legal working time, without disturbing the clocks. This is really visible on table 3 and Table 4 above, where the legal working time is in purple, and the hours with artificial lighting in yellow. There would even be some common sense to start the day with the sun. So it is absolutely not «necessary» to have daylight saving time to save energy.
Think for instance to train time schedules. A night train usually doing his path from 23h to 0h should, the day of time change, do his path instantaneously. As this is impossible, railway companies must have special schedules for this night. It is clear that this kind of juggling, multiplied by the number of public services and companies, has a cost: that of all the work of management, of all the induced perturbations. However we see no field of economy where this can bring any benefit.
Recently (2000) in France, the Jospin government refused to suppress daylight saving time, giving for reason that computers would be already programmed. At very first, computers are basically programmable at will. With Windows, for instance, to check a box is enough to make disappear daylight saving time. Then, we can wonder if it is really wise that computers dictate us our life rhythm. Here again it clearly was only a pretext. And a really poor one...
We can note that Windows 95 was still giving the exact dates of daylight saving time more than six years after its creation. That proves that these dates were in fact planned since long ago.
An interesting argument pro daylight saving time is that it is normal to get up earlier in summer, or to wake with the day. But, once again, this result can be obtained without changing time. It is enough to get up with the sun, as do the majority of us when we do not have an imposed schedule.
Many opinions are possible, but it is difficult to take position, for the simple reason that we are not all equal.
AS a matter of facts the circadian rhythm (estimation of time by the body) theoretically synchronizes itself with the light of the day. But certain persons can synchronize differently, sooner or later. They even cannot synchronize at all, and pass by periods with insomnia accompanied with dizziness during the day (ask for a specialist physician in this case).
This is the reason why we must abstain to take a too hard line on a matter such as the time. This would only disadvantage some, without bringing real benefit to the others.
The European Council however effectively noted health problems related to time change, especially on more sensitive persons, young children or elders, who have more difficulty to synchronize. A health tip which can be useful to some, is to look at a strong light, for instance a pocket lamp, at the time where we want to get up. This helps to synchronize our rhythm with the chosen time. (Beware: to directly stare at the sun is dangerous).
The only conclusions that we can draw are:
- We are not all equal;
- Time changes other than natural are always source of trouble, especially on more vulnerable persons, school children or elders;
- Thus we cannot impose to everybody artificial variations of the daily rhythm.
Some persons are spontaneously in favour of daylight saving time, without any argumentation or administrative reason. The most striking argument is to want TO LIVE WITH THE LIGHT (See this cool site ) rather than living in the grey or at night! It is true that the night sky of the towns, above their deceiptive lights, rather looks like the cieling of hell... Once again, the argument is true, but the conclusion false: there is definitively no need to disturb the clocks to get up when the sun call us. Those who work have a few time in the morning, in place of the evening, that they can use to hear at the song of blackbirds or do their spiritual practices, as it is the best moment for this.
Other more populist arguments such as security are sometimes evoked, but they can far too easily be put upside down. We shall anyway note that security is not a matter of time, but of police (do not tolerate fascist gangs in cities, etc...) and of society (to avoid that children suffer of family problems, to integrate ghettos, etc...)
If choosing a time was only a matter of social or economic conventions, there would be no real meaning to discuss about daylight saving time, and no really valid argument nor to impose it, neither to oppose it.
The problem is that our lives are not made only of work and money. Our lives are also made of emotions, ambiences, feelings. What that certain bureaucrats prudishly call the «quality of life», just to clearly mean that for them it is really insignificant. But, whatever these sirs like it or not, this domain is not accessory, it is the main, that of our profound motives, of our feelings, of the meaning we intend to give to our lives. Work and money? Means, nothing more. It is not the point here to despise these means, but, in any good management, the purposes always pass before the means.
So each moment of the day has its ambient, its colour of light, its vibration. This is accounted for in the Hindu musical system of the ragas, which each mach with a moment of the day, with an ambience. It is also what I explain in my novel «The Gardens of Aeoliah» when the characters, in place of flatly give numbers to the hours, give them poetical names such as «the dew hour», «the merry hour», «the indigo hour», etc.
Our intuitive feeling of time synchronizes itself on this perception. Midday is a handy mark, as it always marks the middle of the day, whatever the season. Before midday, we are nearer of the morning, the largest is still ahead; after midday we are nearer the evening. At midday, the sun is on the south, at at its maximum of height and heat. Usually midday is the time of the main meal, it is a pause where we have to stop the activities of the morning. It shares the day in two equal parts, which use can be different. Midnight is when we change of day.
The clocks, with their accuracy, tend to be a much more powerful indicator than the poetical feeling, or even than the position of the sun (not always visible). If the clocks only confirm the natural marks, there is no problem. But if what indicates the clock is too much biased relative to the feeling, or if this changes all the time, so our nervous system gets completely lost. This is precisely what happens with the daylight saving time, where the midday meal is if fact taken at 11, see at 10 in countries like France. In the middle of the day, the clock indicates 14. Of this contradiction arises this feeling of disorder, of slovenliness, that we feel with daylight saving time, similar to that of the jet lag, or to what we feel when we live a disorderly life (sleeping and eating at any time). This feeling of being off the ambiences of the day will certainly not disturb certain bureaucrats, who anyway are already accustomed to live completely out of reality, but I however hope that to PROVOKE such a feeling was not the real purpose of daylight saving time...
This is the basic reason why I oppose daylight saving time: the realities of life, feelings, poetry, daily happiness, must pass before the so-called administrative and economy constrains. These constrains are, at best, only means, when our daily happiness is of the domain of the PURPOSES.
Added November 2007
When we try to work in an international organisation, it is already difficult enough to have common meetings with people living in different time zones. Time shifts further complicate things, as some people change, others not. But the summit of weirdness is reached when we work with the two hemispheres, North and South. As in this case, while some people ADVANCE toward summer time, others go BACKWARD toward winter time! We never better understand the foolishness of this system, than when a dayly or weekly meeting suddenly becomes impossible because some members are suddenly shifted of TWO HOURS!!!
It is high time to put an end to these absurd practices and to come back to a rationnal time.
It is clear that, in order to account with the various true technical, economical or poetical arguments, we have to keep a stable legal time, which does not dance the gigue. What I should say is that each country must adopt a stable time all the year round, which must be as close as possible from the solar time of the place. If a country like France could adopt the time of its time zone (that of before 1940, which is also the TU time), the maximum discrepensy between solar time and legal time would be only 34 minutes, which is perfectly acceptable (our intuitive perception is not so accurate!) A country like Nepal cuts hairs in four, with an offset of 45 minutes relative to its time zone. The problem of large countries which cover several time zones was well managed in the USA, where the legal time zones were set as close as possible of the true solar time zones, accounting with the state limits. China is the worse example: everybody is at the Beijing time, to the east of the territory, and in the chinese colonies in Turkestan, clocks say midday when in reality it is... 9!
Human arguments tell us to live the day (See this cool site ) and this to get up early, usually with the sun. However nothing should be considered as «normal» and imposed to everybody.
The variation of the sunrise time may lead us to have a variable legal working time, while keeping a constant legal time, as in Table 4. The fact of having clocks which does not dance the gigue absolutely not forbid us to adapt our schedules to the season. But so, when we go at work at six, we know that it is six, and that, after a four hours work session, it is still ten, not yet the time of the meal.
A very interesting experience in my life was a scout camp dedicated to the learning of various techniques, every activity of «work» or «leisure» being accurately scheduled all the day long, without dead times. This gave me the feeling to have days twice as long than usual, without being tired or bored. However when we live a disorderly life, the day is already finished when we just get up. Yeah, a free method to live twice more time!
In fact, it is all our living standard that we should rethink:
To get up earlier, and for this, to go to bed earlier! This is not only an affair of working time, but also of television programs, spectacles, concerts, etc... and even the sport, we hardly see what interest to make sport at night! Here is a domain where administration and politicians could make an useful use of their authority: to manage the access to culture and social life, in such a way that it would not be forbidden to all those who must get up early to go at work! Let us also think at this, managers of associations, clubs, spiritual centres...
As long as we speak of time, we can here criticize the bourgeois opening time of many banks, administrations and public services, which open only during working hours, so that the immense majority of workers must miss work for every trite paper. It is clear that these services must open at other times, even if they need to engage half time workers for this.
To be accurate, to get up with the day would imply to work less in winter. Or, more accurately to consecrate oneself to more family activities. It is how peoples lived before the invention of artificial lighting.
Longer mornings can lead to work only the morning, or to have the morning as a personal time, without work. One day or another administrations will have, willingly or not, to account with the fact that morning soon is the best moment to meditate. Already the Sunday was reserved for prayer. But this, it is not the administrations which forgot it...
France: Association La Méridienne Pour le retour à l'heure méridienne. Snailmail C/0 Jean Denis, 11bis, impasse Lindbergh 69003 Lyon - tel (33)4 37 69 03 37
The site of the ACHE (many documents)
Initiative-sonnenzeit internationale initiative zur abschaffung der sommerzeit - infos, diskussionsforum , ländergruppen, mailinglisten, und... musik. In Germany international initiative, forum, petition, etc.
Administrations which are doing their work:
The position of the french Senate Where are the advantages?
The European council criticizes the countries which live with a time lag of one, see two hours relative to their true timezone (solar time), independently of the fact that this lag changes with the season. Ecological problems (ill placed pollution surges), or about health (disturbed bio rythms, sleep troubles) especially of the most vulnerable persons (children, elder people...) The council asks for the european countries to come back to their true timezone, even when they keep daylight saving time.