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Czech plan to abolish daylight saving time in EU

I thought that the members of the European Parliament don't have the right to propose any laws but this rule must be inaccurate because today, the European Parliament will discuss the proposal by Mr Petr Šilar (Christian Democratic Union – Czechoslovak People's Party) and his brothers (these are not comrades) to abolish the constant switching from the winter time to summer time and back.

On Saturday-Sunday night, on March 29th, Europe is scheduled to switch to the summer time again: the period between 2 am and 3 am won't ever take place. Similarly, sometime in the Fall, for its big success, the 2 am through 3 am hour is repeated twice.

In the Czech lands, the summer time was first introduced in 1916. To increase the protectorate's efficiency, our German overlords established it between 1940 and 1942 as well – and during the summers 1943-1949, a shorter version of it has covered just the summer. Since 1979, it's been introduced every year for 6 months and starting from 1996, for seven months.

These historical patterns themselves are rather complicated but we must ask: isn't this chaos stupid? Doesn't it bring more harm than good?

I tend to agree that it is a silly anachronism. In the past, people were expected to work primarily in the morning, and it's better to run factories during the day – to kickstart them with the sunrise. So you change the time so that the sunrise takes place at "somewhat more uniform" time every day although it's very far from a "totally uniform time", anyway.

The price that you pay is that in the evening, the non-uniformity of the sunset gets even worse, an observation that has always made me say "WTF". ;-) The idea is this increased mismatch in the evening doesn't matter because people don't work in the evening, and they probably don't need any light etc., anyway. But are the evening really so much less important than the mornings?

Feel free to provide us with a better justification of this ritual. What I wrote sounds extremely awkward to me, especially because 1) only a small part of the hypothetical "problem" is solved, 2) symmetrical problems arise, 3) the omitted or doubled hours cause problems to train schedules and tons of other things related to traffic, agriculture, and human psychology. Lots of events may take place between 2 am and 3 am and they can't be properly parameterized by the alternative winter-time/summer-time time coordinate.

Just like we have the experience with the summer time itself, there has been some tradition in the Czech lands when it comes to the fight against this ritual. The most prominent warrior against the ritual was the baker called Stanislav Pecka from Eastern Bohemia who sent a letter to the communist prime minister Štrougal in 1981 – and he was fighting against the summer time until his death in 2009.

The Czech deputies who became Pecka's followers are pragmatic in a characteristic Czech way. They don't really care whether it will be the summer time or the winter time that will be preserved; it's the alternation that is the problem. It actually seems more likely that the summer time would be kept forever. If they succeed, the alternating ritual should stop sometime in 2019.

There are lots of opening hours and similar data around us that are adjusted according to the season, anyway. So I find it obvious that if a factory would really be saving lots of money thanks to the summer time, it could change its schedules as a function of the season in a way that would have exactly the same – or even better – effect. The workers may be working from 7 am in the summer but 8 am in the winter, and so on.

See a Wikipedia page and map showing which places in the world use the summer time and which don't.

What do you think about the summer time ritual?

I mentioned a ritual promoted by the Nazis that most of us consider to be an anachronism. But truth to be told, they did many of these things correctly. The Nazis were planning to build the Breslau-Wien superhighway through Moravia. Poland seems to be concluding that the path of this road was really optimal and the Czech folks seem to agree so it seems pretty likely that Hitler's superhighway will be completed with this 70 years delay, after all. You may be surprised by "Hitler's superhighway" actually seems to be the primary name of the project. Some Slavic nations aren't afraid to give the credit to some (currently) unpopular people. ;-)

Thirty years ago, I saw a very nice bridge in the middle of fields near Jevíčko that leads "nowhere". We were told that it was a part of the highway that was never completed.

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snail feedback (33) :

reader Fred said...

Sorry to digress from your interesting blog post but I am assuming that this story is bollocks.


reader Marcel van Velzen said...

The whole discussion is about 1/2 an hour, not an hour. You could just sit in the middle between summer and winter time and the difference with what we have now would only be 1/2 an hour.

reader br said...

I prefer keeping Winter Time all year round, as the sun is overhead at midday. Nice and neat, give or take a bit of longitude within a time zone.
One still gets into 'trouble' at the edges of time zones - changing an hour while moving 1 meter over a border. Spain is 1 hour ahead of Portugal, but at the crinkly northern border, you may change your clock an hour backwards by moving 1 meter east. However, at least it is up to you to travel, whereas having daylight saving time imposed on you when you don't need it seems a bit arbitrary.

reader Dilaton said...

From just reading the title of this article, I say yes yes yes !

It is high time to get rid of that crappy annoying nonsense ...

reader Dilaton said...

Yes, it is of course the Wintertime that should be kept, as this is the natural one ...

reader BMWA1 said...

Actually Lubos, as an aside, I believe that RU introduced "permanent winter time" last year (perhaps trying to live-up to reputation?). They seem to like it.

reader Liam said...

From John Oliver again:


Yeah, why do we still do this again? Seems daft to me... :)

reader Rehbock said...

My work and homes are in two time zones opposite ends of country. My clients in several additional. If some were to stop using DS it would be harder to manage. We really are a global society now. A number that is universal makes more sense than twenty four. One time zone per hemisphere would be plenty.
Our legislature is also talking of abolishing daylight savings. They often study such problems when they should be addressing budget woes.

reader physicsnut said...

it's about time !

reader TomVonk said...

Well I have always liked the summer and winter time for a simple reason : I prefer more light to less light.

Considering that I wake up and go to sleep at the same hours every day, it then follows that the intersection of my waking hours and light hours is maximised when the time origin (on the clock) is adequately translated as function of the sunrise hour.

As it can't be done every week nor even every month, I can live with only 2x/year.

It is not a perfect optimisation but better that than nothing. I hate it when daylight goes wasted because I sleep. Of course my preference is only born because I happen to live in the right latitude band - say [40°,55°]. Above and below, my optimisation factor is quite smaller.


Especially in summer at our latitudes (Paris, Berlin, Prague) I find it particularly pleasant to sit on my terrace at 22:00 and read a good book in daylight instead of being already in a black night and having to read with artificial light.

reader kiuhuikhu said...

If I read this article then I want there to be no time at all.

reader Uncle Al said...

Abolish time zones entirely. One planet, one time. Depending on locality, the same stuff happens at different times. So what? Imagine how the Earth can be saved by the lowered carbon footprint of not resetting timepieces when people of value commute. Airline schedules would suddenly make sense, universally.

12 months, 30 days each, no day vs. date cycling. Exactitude! The 5.2442 days left over would be an off-calendar New Year week of orgiastic excesses called Moraleco (It's gotta be in Esperanto, right?).

reader Jaroslav Šnajdr said...

It's interesting that the Wroclaw-Wien highway project was started in 1938, while Czechoslovakia was still independent, and it was meant to be "extraterritorial" - its purpose was to connect two parts of the German Empire and it would be considered a German territory. There would be a border checkpoint at every exit. Quite humiliating conditions for a sovereign country. More (in Czech) is here: http://www.dalnice.com/historie/planovani/nem_u_nas/nem_dal_v_csr.htm

reader Luboš Motl said...

I would actually endorse your radical proposal, and have made it in the past, too. ;-)

It seems OK to get used to having noon around 13:00 here, and I am sure that in Moscow, they must be able to get used to at noon around 15:00, too. ;-) And 7:00 in Boston. Or not? :-))

reader Pavel said...

If this proposal shall be enhanced by longer day - 25 hours (it is more natural, because that is the actual day length of our internal clock that is corrected every morning). This makes all places on the world equal.

reader Nailtrail said...

The constant switching around is stupid but I 'd prefer to have permanent winter time. I just love long evening hours.

reader Swine flu said...

The State of Arizona does not switch to Daylight Savings Time. (The Navajo reservation located in the State does, but that's their sovereign business.) The story, which may or may not be real, is that when Daylight Savings Time was mandated back in the 1960's or 1970's, one of the legislative leaders in Arizona owned a number of drive-in movie theaters that were popular at the time, and he found that with the desert heat lasting later into the evening hours, his business was losing money. And so Arizona asked to be exempt from the Federal law mandating the time change.

I must say, however, that I do not like the idea of permanently moving time one hour ahead. It's nice to have daylight later into the evening, but even that may vary from place to place and from season to season, and all of this at the price of violating the idea that at least in the middle of a time zone the High Noon is, you know, at noon. Now, one may say, who cares about the astronomy, but we should. So, I say, have every school and business shift their hours one hour back instead.

reader Tony said...

Flat earth society would probably enthusiastically agree

reader mesocyclone said...

Here in Arizona, we don't have to keep switching. But... since almost everyone else does, our offset relative to the rest of the US changes twice a year. Right now, our time is the same as California's. In the winter, it will be the same as Colorado's.It confuses the heck out of folks not in AZ and also confuses software. It really doesn't matter whether everyone ends up with "daylight savings time" (later sunset) or not.

The rest of the country needs to stop switching. It's an annoyance. If Czechia wants to stop switching, it sounds fine to me.

A little story... As mentioned by "Swine Flu" - the Navajo res does switch. But inside the Navajo res is the Hopi res (a different tribe, hostile to the Navajos). The last time I checked, the Hopi's did not switch. The result, a tiny little area not switching, the all nearby sizeable towns switching. A mess.

reader John Archer said...

Dear Luboš,

Unlike most other European countries, the Czech Republic had the excellent sense to place its 'centre of gravity' on a convenient line of longitude — it's pretty much 15º east of Greenwich. That makes it exactly an hour ahead of us. Remarkable!

Not bad for a country without a navy. :)

reader John Archer said...

Dear Luboš,

You surprise me!

"I thought that the members of the European Parliament don't have the right to propose any laws but this rule must be inaccurate because today, the European Parliament will discuss the proposal by Mr Petr Šilar (Christian Democratic Union – Czechoslovak People's Party) and his brothers (these are not comrades) to abolish the constant switching from the winter time to summer time and back."

I thought by now you'd surely have realised that NOTHING is as it appears with the EU. :)

Children and others of a sensitive disposition should avert their gaze, but the more resilient among you can consult this Shit Link. Click on the 'Legislative initiative' tab.

Legislative initiative
The Commission has the legislative initiative. However, under the Treaty of Maastricht enhanced by the Lisbon Treaty, the European Parliament has a right of legislative initiative that allows it to ask the [outrageously unaccountable] Commission to submit a proposal.
Initiative under Article 225 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union
On the basis of a report by one of its committees, under Article 225 TFEU, Parliament, acting by a majority of its Members, may request the Commission to submit any appropriate legislative proposal. Parliament may, at the same time, set a deadline for the submission of such a proposal. The Parliament committee responsible must first ask the Conference of Presidents for authorisation. [And now HERE COMES THE KICKER ....... READY?] The Commission may agree or refuse to submit the proposal requested.

Own-initiative reports
In the areas where the treaties give the European Parliament the right of initiative, its committees may draw up a report on a subject within its remit and present a motion for a resolution to Parliament. They must request authorisation from the Conference of Presidents before drawing up a report.

[Lightly annotated by the Truly Right Honourable John Archer]

So, the parliament has the 'right' to seek permission...!

Well, fucking hell! That's power for you!

But it's all crap anyway, since there is no legitimate basis for the european parliament — the whole thing is a complete sham since there is no 'european' demos. End of discussion.

But it's worse than that: countries that were allowed by their political classes to vote on the proposed constitutional treaty (later cosmetically repackaged as the so-called Lisbon Treaty) and who rejected it were either completely ignored or 'asked' to vote again until "YOU FUCKING PLEBS GET IT RIGHT!"

When are dumbarse european nationals going to wake up to the fact that their countries are being run by the biggest and nastiest bunch of twisted cunts in history?

It's a lovely day here. I think I'll go for stroll. Feed the ducks.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Thanks, John, and I agree with you! Locally, it's a big deal for the towns that are exactly on the 15 degree line of longitude, see a list:


I think that the most famous and largest one is the town of Jindřichův Hradec. The line is going through the city center and you won't miss it if you visit the town:


reader br said...

It might depend on what you mean by zero longitude. GPS zero doesn't go through Greenwich Observatory: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?msa=0&mid=ziJte6aGu3dU.kcqxWuW7cPpk and according to WGS_84 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Geodetic_System , the GPS zero is about 100 m off. So it sounds like the Czech claim is correct with respect to the original zero. Not totally sure what happens with continental drift - from here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prime_meridian#IERS_Reference_Meridian it seems like all the continents are drifting with reference to the defined standard!

reader Luboš Motl said...

Continental Drift moves Europe by one inch per year so you need 5000 years to get 100 meters.

reader br said...

I found this link fun: http://sideshow.jpl.nasa.gov/post/series.html . You can click on the green dots to see how fast a location is moving. Even with Europe there is a twisting going on, and N. and S. America seem to be curling around a point in south Mexico. Australia is moving at about 2 inches per year. Nice!

reader John Archer said...

Exactly! Greenwich stays where it is, and always will do. Everything else drifts, including Europe. :)

By the way, here on the grand übercontinent of Britain we have the largest island in the world off our eastern and southern coasts. No other country can claim that!


P.S. The Japanese would have have to turn the world inside out! Until they do, they're out of the running. :)

reader br said...

Another thing I'm not clear on is where the 100 m offset came from. According to this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Geodetic_System#Longitudes_on_WGS_84 it was the French, and according to this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IERS_Reference_Meridian#Location it was the US. Obviously, neither was too fussy about UK sensitivities! But still, the Czech's did better, even before GPS.

reader John Archer said...

You're right!

Bugger me! Some bastard has shifted England to the left! By about 335 feet!

The country's gone west!


The French, eh? Yeah, that figures. Time to get back to customary pastime with them. They NEVER learn!


reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear John, yours is surely amusing chauvinism but it doesn't help anything.

Greenwich may be perfectly static, by definition, but it may still be true that all houses that were built in Greenwich, along with the traffic signs showing city borders, are drifting relatively to the true Greenwich.

The people near this center of the world should be constantly asking: having we moved out of the holy land?

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear br, all those pages are compatible. The meridian was shifted 102 meters because they wanted to keep the coordinates of - predominantly - American places that had been measured before. If those widely believed U.S. coordinates are taken seriously, first satellite measurements showed that Greenwich was 102 away from the right place.

The switch to the "widely believed coordinates of the U.S. places" from the "widely believed coordinates of the U.K. places" was codified by bureaucrats in international organizations with headquarters in France.

reader John Archer said...

Exactly, Luboš. Forget what the Jews tell you. England is indeed the true Jerusalem!

This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this sceptered isle, this England ...

Yes, it's all very worrying! William Blake and Shakespeare must be turning in their graves.

Well, they won't get away with blaming this one on global warming, I can tell you! We'll have the bastards yet!


reader John Archer said...

So we can't really blame the French then?

Luboš, you really ought to keep bad news like that to yourself. Spreading the misery about doesn't help anyone ...


reader John Archer said...

It's still yesterday here in England.

You'll all have to reset your clocks!