30 October 2009

A Single Time Zone for the entire World

I have often wondered why we can’t have a single time zone for the entire world. We can then all follow the same 24 hour clock. Think of all the benefits it would accrue.

No missed connecting flights. This sometimes happens, when, having landed in a new country, you forget to synchronise your watch to the new time zone. Another benefit would be that when you land in a foreign country, you are sure what the current local (?) time is. Therefore, you are less likely to miss that important business meeting. Think also how the artificial date line would go up in a wisp. No gaining or losing days as you take transpacific flights. Had this time zone rule been promulgated before his time, Jules Verne would have had to write the climax of ‘Around the world in eighty days’ differently.

The biggest advantage would however be the saving in software development and deployment. Time zone conversion software keeps piling up like some garbage in a landfill. Any software, that services or triggers anything that is cross border, and has something to do with real time or near real time, has always been a nightmare to maintain. What with daylight saving hours in some countries, the complexity just keeps growing exponentially. Multinational companies come to a grinding halt whenever a software that has anything to do with time stamp and time-zone gets messed up. Operations halt, business is lost and generally chaos reigns all over.

The argument against a single time zone is essentially the psychological impact leading to a physiological distress. We have grown with our times, metaphorically and physically. We have breakfast at a particular time, go to office at a particular time, whether in Bangalore or in Rio De Janeiro. But with a same time zone all across the world, some may have breakfast at 1200 hours while others may take breakfast at 2300 hours. I say, so what? Such psychological barriers can be overcome. Think of the people in the poles; often times, for them, there is no correlation with what they are doing and where the sun is in the sky. Think also of the blind. Time is just a number for the blind. I think the psychological barrier is not a big deal.

The real problem obviously is to make all countries agree on a common clock. It is not a trivial task. Look at where the universal language Esperanto is today. Even after one and a quarter century after its invention, no country has adopted it. Language obviously evokes more emotion than time zone, but to get all countries to a single time zone will take a while.

Even so, I think it is worth engaging in that direction. Perhaps, someday you would place a transatlantic call and not ask this question: What time is it over there?


shoOOonya said...

You are forgetting that when travelling cross border; you will be saved the trouble of adjusting the watch and no risk of missing the appointment BUT you will have to suddenly get used to having your breakfast, lunch and dinner at some different time. BNot just psychological but thats a huge inconvenience.

Different time zones ensure that your daily life is NOT disrupted and you still do things at the same time.

In this age of increased international travel and frequent travellers ... if you had to get used to new set of timings for waking up, sleeping and food consumption ... One would go crazy !!

Akter Md. Ali said...

I support you 100%. I am delighted to see that there is some one else who also thinks like me. In fact I have created a facebook group "Single Global Time Zone" 2 years back but got very little response. I welcome you to join the group.

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