Time Zones

So I’m in Barcelona. Got here late last night, and it’s too early to judge the city – the back of a taxi in the middle of the night speeding through empty streets isn’t the best way to judge a city. Will go out later today and possibly check for myself.

But one thing I know for sure is that Barcelona is in the wrong time zone. I woke up at 7:30  this morning and it was dark. Like Bangalore is dark at 6 in the morning! And though I’m yet to see an evening here myself, I’ve been told that nowadays it gets dark here only at 7:30 pm or something.

The problem here is that most of Europe wants to be on the same time zone – this map explains the whole issue.

Notice the green region here, in which I’ve been for this week so far. Macedonia on the East and Galicia (that portion of Spain just to the north of Portugal) on the west are on the same time zone! And as you can see from the longitudinal lines on this map, that is like a difference of thirty degrees! Or two hours in terms of the earth’s rotation!

While having the same time zone might make sense in terms of coordinating work timings across places in the same economic zone and could thus lead to better trade and commerce and coordination (see this post on Samoa’s move across the International Date Line for the politics of time zone), having a wide degrees of longitudes share the same time is plain absurd, in terms of the usage of “daylight” in these places!

Thus, it will get dark absurdly really in the day in Macedonia, while the sun just doesn’t seem to rise in Galicia! I’m thinking I should go out for a run tomorrow morning, but what time do I go? By the time the sun is up the traffic will be in full swing!

This whole concept of a common European time is no less absurd than the much-maligned concept of Beijing and Xinjiang (at the western edge of China) being on the same time zone! Yet we don’t hear much criticism of Europe’s time zones. Wonder why!

And on top of having such a wide time zones these guys want to impose daylight savings! This is firmly in the “measure with a micrometer, mark with a chalk and cut with an axe” territory!

7 thoughts on “Time Zones”

  1. Interesting. I am not a international traveler but was not aware of this timezone in my hobby HAM radio..strange

  2. The variation between daylight in summer and winter in Europe is insane. If you’d been to Spain in mid June, the same sunrise would’ve been before 5 AM. Unless you change the timezone every 3 months, there is no other practical solution. Or to put it differently, the inconvenience of having the sun rise so late in Spain in October is minor compared to the convenience of being in the same timezone as Macedonia, Sweden etc.

    You’re seeing the timezone at the end of summer, that’s why the sunrise seems incongruous. In 2 weeks, the sunrise will be 6:30 instead of 7:30.

    1. Basic principle of timezone design is (as i see it right now) symmetry of the day around noon! It’s ok if the sun rises at 5 am and sets at 7 pm – that’s symmetric! But rising at 5am and setting at 5pm (or the same thing shifted by anything other than one hour) just seems very inappropriate!

      The way I see it, France and Spain and Andorra need to move to the same time zone as the UK. Should balance things out.

  3. Here’s a question that we asked at the Tanshiq open quiz last year:
    Productivity improvement in Spain is a burning issue as it grapples with a major economic crisis.
    A parliamentary commission in 2013 has made an unusual suggestion: Undo one of the measures taken by dictator Franco in 1940.
    This will change and improve many things – the three hour lunch break, the practice of siesta, craving for tapas…
    The Spanish will sleep more at night, save power and will be able to do business with Europe more easily.
    What measure? Why did Franco undertake this in the first place?

    1. Spain’s natural time zone is that of Britain and Portugal. But in 1940, dictator Francisco Franco, in an effort to showcase Spain’s sympathies with Germany, changed to the Central European Time zone, following Adolf Hitler’s decision to align French time with that of Berlin.

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