Monday, February 08, 2010

More Hours in Your Day for Travel

Time is a totally human construct. Over thousands of years, we have tried to tame the untamable, manage what is inherently chaotic. We set our clocks to suit our farming, education, business, recreation schedules. Then, we tinker with those settings by changing things in the summer with Daylight Saving Time.

A few times in U.S. history, we’ve made DST permanent – during World War II and again during the “oil crisis” of the early 1970s.

Now, the Brits are considering making DST year round. (No, wait. Actually, they’re proposing making all time one hour ahead – both summer and winter. Thus the UK would be GMT +1 in winter, and GMT +2 in summer.) Currently, when the UK sets their clocks forward in summer it’s called... Summer Time. The new scheme (Brit-speak for “plan”) is called... hold your breath... Single Double Summer Time (SDST). This is being promoted as (take your pick): A vote-getting stunt. A boost to tourism. A job creation measure (80,000 new jobs in the tourism sector alone). Reduce accidents. Save energy.

Of course, it’s once again playing “politics” with people’s lives. President Warren G. Harding allegedly called DST a “deception.” (Remember how effective Harding’s brief year-and-a-half in office was?) We actually rather agree with that observation.

But we also say: When in doubt, follow the money. The UK tourism industry is hoping for a £3.5 billion boost in revenue if SDST is implemented.

(Countries that observe DST in blue. Map from Wikipedia.)