It's That Time of Year When We Look at How It's Time to Dump Standard and Daylight Saving Time

Screen capture IMDB/ Walter Cronkite. IMDB/ Walter Cronkite

We don't need Railway Time or War Time anymore; let's party like it's 1882 and bring back Your Time.

Once upon a time, almost everyone with a television would turn them on at the same time to watch Walter Cronkite deliver the evening news. The TV Guide was the best-selling magazine in the country. People would race to catch the 5:39 train to be home by 6:30. The banks opened at 10:00 and closed at 3:00 and if you didn't make it, you had no cash for the rest of the day. And of course, you worked at the office from 9 to 5.

Today, all of that is gone the way of TV Guide; we watch when we want to watch. If you need cash it comes out of a wall any time of day. We work everywhere, all the time. There are obviously still events, like restaurant reservations and ball games that need specific starting times, but these are local events that can run on local time.

There are also international events, and World Series games in other cities that we might want to watch. For that, we should have international or Universal time, the same for everyone everywhere.

time zones

© via Quartz

Yet we still tie everyone to rigid time zones wide enough that someone in Boston will see sundown at 5:45 while in Detroit on the same day, the sun will set at 6:33. Madrid is in the same time zone but sunset is a full hour behind Berlin. Our body clocks, attuned the quality of light at sunrise, noon and sunset, can't cope with being this much out of whack. In fact, one study attributed the lower productivity and higher accident rate among Spanish workers to time being out of whack.

War time poster 1

War Time poster /Public Domain

Then there is the big dislocation that comes from Daylight Saving Time, originally known as War Time. It was designed to save coal in the First World War, but is totally useless at saving anything in the air conditioned, electric lit age. In fact, according to Brian Merchant, it is costing us billions.

Yet our bodies have to adapt this weekend to waking, eating and other bodily functions an hour off from what we did the day before. And it takes days for us to re-adapt. This is really bad for us; according to David Samadi in the Observer:

When one’s circadian rhythm is disrupted even a little, sleeping and eating patterns can go haywire. There is even a growing body of research examining the long-term adverse health effects a disrupted circadian rhythm can have, like an increased chance of cardiovascular events, obesity, and a correlation with neurological problems like depression and bipolar disorder.
Public Domain. Sandford Fleming tells the time. (Photo: Canada Archives)

Before Railway Time, or Standard Time, was invented by Sandford Fleming and accepted in the USA in 1883, every town had its own time, calculated at noon each day. There were over 300 time zones in the country. This worked just fine; in every town, people's bodies were in sync with the circadian rhythms of their local time. Nobody much cared what the time was in the next town until the railroads came along; then they needed it for Walter Cronkite.

But Railway Time and War Time aren't relevant any more. Now we have computers and watches that can keep track of two times; why not have one running UTC, universal time, and another running local solar time? Your time. We should be living according to times that are best for our health and our circadian rhythms; that means noon is when the sun is at zenith, wherever you are.

It's time to dump the biannual time change and probably time to dump time zones as a relic of another era. In North America none of the trains run on time anyway; what's the point? Forget Railway Time or War Time. Demand Your Time.