Tuesday, April 04, 2006

We want summer time!

I do, anyway.

Apparently Japan's environment ministry aims to save energy by turning out the lights at 8pm, forcing late-stayers to either pack up and go home, or move into a special "overtime room". While I'm all for encouraging people to go home a bit earlier (working hours are commonly about 10am-7pm or even later here) there is an alternative that would have a much greater effect on energy consumption: CHANGE THE CLOCKS!

Currently, sunrise is 5:24am and sunset 6:05pm in Tokyo (I just looked it up). That means solar noon is 11:45am. Even in midsummer, the evening is short, with sunset just creeping past 7pm, and anyone who doesn't go home fairly early will be in darkness towards the end of the day (and it's not just at work - whether travelling or at at home, it gets dark early). Changing the clocks by AT LEAST an hour - and maybe one hour year-round and 2 in summer - would give everyone a load more free light in the evenings. Sure, the mornings would be darker, but there aren't many people getting up at that time anyway. In fact people often use shutters to keep out the light so they can get some sleep :-)

I once saw some stats that changing to Summer Time (Daylight Saving Time) would be expected to cut about 1-2% off electricity consumption nationally. Japan used to change the clocks, for a short period after the 2nd World War. According to this article, the main reason they abandoned it was the humiliation of defeat which accompanied its imposition. It's surely time to get over that. The only other advanced nations not to use any DST are South Korea, and Iceland (and for the latter, there is little point, since it's basically light all summer and dark all winter). Seoul is already in a less unsuitable time zone, with solar noon currently around 12:35pm - so compared to Tokyo, it's summer time year-round there.


EliRabett said...

You could be living in western China

James Annan said...

Or even in Outer Mongolia. Oh, that's more-or-less the same place :-) But I'm not, I'm living in the beautiful town of Kamakura, working on the edge of the lovely city of Yokohama, and I'd like to see them in daylight!