Friday, 19 May 2017

Double The Fun

I have long been an advocate of the UK but England in particular, adopting double summer time aka Single/Double Summer Time (SDST).

Even Les Miserable Scots .... Accept That The Sun Is Better Than The Darkness ....

This would mean that instead of the majority of us only seeing daylight from an office window during the week, it would in fact only be on or around the winter solstice that the sun would disappear at 17:30pm.

The arguments for such a change being made are many, but a few worth highlighting are:

  1. It would help prevent cases of depression and suicide, both of which rise significantly during the darker months.
  2. Cut down the number of deaths on the roads as the daylight hours provide safer driving conditions for both motorists and pedestrians ~ this occurred last time the UK flirted with this change. However a campaign by a rather ignorant daily newspaper caused the experiment to be ended, and deaths (especially amongst school children) actually rose again, while the campaigning newspaper smugly proclaimed its victory.
  3. Maximise the hours of out of work daylight to allow us to enjoy our free time.
  4. It would reduce CO2 pollution by at least 447,000 tonnes each year, the equivalent to more than 50,000 cars driving all the way around the world
  5. Business advantages ~ The UK market loses an hour of overlap in the morning with Europe and an hour overlap in the evening.
  6. Tourism ~ It would extend by two months the part of the tourist season that is dependent upon daylight hours, and enable later closing of tourist facilities.
  7. Crime reduction ~ More crimes committed at night than during the day.

Double Summer Time Sadly Doesn't Mean This.

The objections to this change have in the main come from Scotland, specifically the highlands. But as they have electricity even that far north, I can't say that I have really understood the issue. The idea that perhaps 100,000 people can prevent the rest of us utilising our time better, is frankly ridiculous. Talk about the Scottish tail wagging the English dog.

Formally speaking, the reasons for this resistance for what looks like a perfectly sensible change, are mostly from Scotland where there has always been opposition to the change. A 2005 MORI poll suggested that England those in favour amount to over 75%, with the main plus points raised. In Scotland only 40% of Scots were in favour of the change, because of the following misfacts.
  • 'This is something which would benefit the English, not the Scottish.' ~ Complete bollocks of course as all the major advantages such as road safety, environmental benefit and fuel cost, tourism, health and well-being, are equally, if not more valid in Scotland than in England and Wales.
  • 'There is nothing that can be done – there is only so much available daylight in Scotland.' _ strange objection. It doesn't mean much to us so we will block you from having it. In fact because Scotland has less available daylight in winter, it is even more important for Scotland to manage it carefully, because it is a more precious resource.
  • 'It would make sense for England to go one hour ahead and Scotland to remain where it is.' ... strictly speaking (apart from the devolution issues), this is actually a geographical north-south issue, unaffected by time zones. Personally I would let Scotland go its own way, its going to spilt from the UK anyway in the next 10 years, so it may as well stop using our pinny's to comfort them. It's realistic to assume that once we split, we will drift apart on these sorts of issues anyway, so we may as well get Scotland aware of this.
  • 'More children will die in traffic accidents because of the darker mornings.' I have saved this one to last because it is in fact a total pile of doo doo's. SDST is to save children's lives, even more so in Scotland than in England and Wales, because Scotland has longer, darker winter evenings, which is where the principal number of traffic casualties occur. This was a fallacy that arose during the 1968/71 experiment, because certain media reported an increase in child casualties in the morning. Totally omitting to mention that the evening reduction had more than compensated for this increase, meaning less children died overall. (11% fewer fatalities and serious injuries in England and Wales and 17% fewer in Scotland during the hours affected by the clock change).

Partly as a result of that wilfully ignorant newspaper campaign, there is a widely-held belief amongst some Scots that this change would be bad for Scotland, when in fact, the opposite is true. However I can tell you one thing .... If England did make the change, the Scots would quietly follow suit within two years.

However as a compromise, and to appease our brothers and sisters northwards of Hadrian's Wall, why not a reduction of the time shift inside the current GMT arrangements: Say a shorter period of 4 or maybe 5 weeks either side of the shortest day. This may satisfy those who feel its a fight to the death for Scotland, and allow the rest of us to effectively have only 2 months of darkness.

Just for the record GMT Summer Time was introduced in the UK as late as 1916 (rather like licensing hours for pubs) .... in response the Germany doing the same in the first world war. It was originally the idea of a man called William Willett .... He did not live to see daylight saving become law, as he died of influenza in 1915 at the age of 58.

Sadly, it seems that we will only get this deserved change if Scotland leaves the union .... a high price to pay for road safety and health well being.

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