diamond geezer

 Thursday, February 24, 2011

I had a post lined up this week to discuss the iniquities of British Summer Time. And then, out of the blue, this is the week the Government proposes the biggest shake-up of British Summer Time in 30 years. So I'll save my planned post until tomorrow, and start by getting this off my chest...

Hey Britain, steel yourself for Double Summer Time. This is the Coalition's latest wheeze to boost tourism/save energy/cut road deaths by making our evenings lighter later. More specifically they're considering changing from GMT to GMT+1 in the winter, and from GMT+1 to GMT+2 in the summer. This doesn't increase the amount of daylight we have, that's physically impossible, but it does shift more of the available daylight past breakfast to a time when you're actually awake. In June Double Summer Time would mean it'd stay light until roughly 11pm, but conversely in late December the sun wouldn't rise anywhere in Britain before 9am. The BBC have a very useful graphic to show the extremes, which I've semi-cannibalised to create this table.

Sunrise and sunset times - Single/Double Summer Time
December 21 sunrise
December 21 sunset
June 21 sunrise
June 21 sunset

I think everyone agrees that lighter evenings in the winter would be a good thing. Fewer accidents on the roads, cheaper electricity bills because the lights go on later, and no longer that sense of gloom when the sky goes dark before 4pm. In London the sun would set within a few minutes of 5pm from mid-November to mid-January, which has got to be better than we have now. But there's a price to pay. Sunrise in London would take place later than 9am for several midwinter weeks, and much nearer 10am for everybody across Scotland. Would dark mornings wear you down more than light evenings would cheer you up - that's the key question.

Let's take a more detailed look at what Double Summer Time would mean for sunrise and sunset times across an entire year. I've picked Leeds because it's roughly in the centre of the country, and I've given approximate times for the middle of the month in each case. Remember, everything in this table is one hour later than we have now.

Approximate sunrise and sunset times for Leeds (DST)

Sunrise (winter): There'd be five (yes five) months of the year when the sun rises later than 8am, and two months when it rises later than 9am (ugh, that'd be miserable)
Sunrise (summer): There'd only be one month of the year when the sun rises before 6am (hurrah, this minimises the amount of wasted daylight while most people are asleep)
Sunset (winter): There'd be only three months of the year when the sun sets before 6pm, and just one when it sets before 5pm (hurrah, that'd be great)
Sunset (summer): There'd be four months of the year when the sun sets later than 9pm, and two months when it sets later than 10pm (hurrah if you're outdoors) (boo if you're trying to get to sleep)

Changing to Double Summer Time would be easy. At the end of March we'd shift our clocks forward an hour as usual, but then in October we'd choose not to turn them back. The following March we'd shift our clocks forward one further hour, aligning us with Double Summer Time, and then we'd continue with "Spring forward, Fall back" as usual every year.

Switching to Double Summer Time would also mean...
embracing the same timezone as the rest of Europe
tweaking our clocks to better suit foreign tourists
abandoning Greenwich Mean Time forever
never again celebrating New Year at the 'right' time
...which makes it extra-surprising it's the Conservatives suggesting this.

We'd essentially be joining Central European Time. Our clocks would read the same in London as they do in Vienna, and in Belfast the same as they do in Warsaw. This is astronomically perverse. The sun takes precisely one hour to travel through 15 degrees of longitude, but the longitudes of Belfast and Warsaw are nearly 30 degrees apart. We'd be joining a CET timezone that's twice as wide as it ought to be, with the sun taking two hours to travel from one side to the other rather than just one.

The UK took part in a DST experiment back in 1968, spending three years with the clocks set one hour ahead of normal. But dark mornings in the northern half of the country weren't popular, and the experiment was soon abandoned by politicians fearful of losing their seats. Now that Scotland's independent they could go it alone, staying on GMT/BST while the rest of the UK goes Double. But do we really want to be changing our watches as we cross the Scottish border? And is a Kingdom split by time really a United one?

Personally I hope we leave our clocks where they are. Daylight Saving is already the most successful con trick of all time, persuading entire nations to do everything an hour earlier than they would otherwise for seven months of the year. Double Summer Time would simply extend the pretence for the entire year, shunting everyone an extra hour into the future. It's government-enforced time travel, enabled purely because certain businesses would find it advantageous. It's not really increasing daylight, it's just shifting winter gloom from evenings to mornings. And anyway, like I said, there's another issue with British Summer Time which I really think needs dealing with first. Of which more tomorrow.

» The Daylight Saving Bill 2010-11 (pdf)
» How Scotland would be affected (pdf)
» How Daylight Saving originated (in Petts Wood)

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan17  Feb17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this month?
28 Jan – 23 Apr (10am-4.30pm)
Sussex Modernism
The sixth annual exhibition at Two Temple Place focuses on radical art/writing in Sussex, and is damned excellent.

twenty blogs
ian visits
blue witch
city metric
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
london museums
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
The DG Tour of Britain
Comment Value Hierarchy

read the archive
Feb17  Jan17
Dec16 Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards