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Why not do away with world timezones altogether?

Gordon Ansell Opinion, Society 498 words.

A couple of academics — Steve Hanke, professor of applied economics at John Hopkins, and Dick Henry, professor of physics and astronomy at Johns Hopkins — are suggesting we do away with world timezones. Essentially, they suggest the whole world just operates on GMT and adjusts the times they go to work or go to bed accordingly.

Let’s say you work 9AM to 5PM in the UK, then in the east of America your standard hours are 2PM to 10PM. Hours are just numbers after all and I think it’s easier to adjust the hours you do things rather than faffing about with timezones.

Apparently this would help avoid something called social jet-lag. I have no idea what this is but I’m sure getting rid of it will please many people. Doing away with things is usually beneficial and as examples I give you leprosy, human sacrifice and the Bay City Rollers — the world became a better place when we did away with each of them.

I have a couple of vested interests I must declare here. First of all, they’re proposing we use GMT (or UTC, if you like) as the standard and that’s convenient for me in the UK because I don’t have to change anything. Secondly, I’m an IT professional — or was, anyway — and having to account for timezones in computer code is quite tedious.

Some places stray from the official timezone anyway. I was in the Maldives a while back and they just use Island Time there and that’s based around when their food supplies come in by boat. You can be on a different timezone to another island that you can clearly see from your bedroom window.

Hanke and Henry go even further than that, though, because they also want to standardise the calendar. This so-called Hanke–Henry Permanent Calendar intercalates weeks rather than days, which means each date falls on the same day of the week every year. The 1st January will always be a Monday for example.

The Hanke-Henry calendar.
The Hanke-Henry calendar.
Credit: Pegy22. CC BY-SA 4.0.

Some people might be miffed that their birthday always falls mid-week but governments could stamp out that sort of dissent with fines and floggings. By pure coincidence my birthday would always fall on a Saturday, but that has no influence on my support for their calendar — no siree, none at all.

There’s still a bit of awkwardness because the calendar calls for an extra mini-month consisting of just one week, which would be included every five or six years to keep us aligned with our orbit around the Sun. Specifically, we'd need this extra mini-month in years when the current — Gregorian — calendar begins or ends on a Thursday. They’ve just called this mini-month ‘Xtra’ but I think something like Tredectober, if you like Latin, or Triakaidecatember, if you like Greek, would be better.

This all makes complete sense to me, which probably means it’ll never happen. I might unilaterally adopt it nevertheless and, as the 28th October is always a Sunday, I’m going back to bed.