I've always felt that time zones make no sense.

Originally created for the convenience of railroad companies, riddled with exceptions and inconsistencies, and utterly ridiculous on their face (just look at the crazy zigzag borders between time zones), they have nevertheless somehow become a sacred cow such that many people get angry if you even want to talk about changing them.

All of which is why I think it's time to get rid of time zones completely and have one single time zone, preferably using the 24-hour clock.

Think back to why timezones originally had to be created. Originally clocks were set according to the movement of the sun in relation to that specific location, and times differed slightly even from village to village as one moved east or west. But as technologies like the telegraph and the railroad developed, and travel and communication times decreased, it became too much of a headache to change watches and clocks at every station, and time zones were born.

Initially, time zones were called "railway time," and were used only by railroads and telegraph companies. In other words, these zones were created for economic purposes. Accordingly, the borders of the time zones were drawn to avoid bisecting internally cohesive areas of economic exchange, such as cities, states, and other highly integrated areas of economic activity. This is why these borders look so absurd, even today.

But in today's age of globalization, with our super long range, carbon fiber jet aircraft, Skype, and teleconferencing, communication and transportation technology have advanced to the point where the entire world has become an integrated economic zone.

This is why time zones no longer make any sense. Think about how much easier it would be to travel if we didn't have to constantly reset our watches. Think about how much easier it would be to set up a Google Hangout with five business partners on five different continents if we could just tell everyone to sign on at "1 o'clock", and that were the same time for everyone?

Having more than 24 different time zones worldwide and keeping track of them all has real economic costs for corporations, governments, and individuals, and even if the costs in any one specific case are rather minimal, in aggregate they are significant. This is why time zones had to be created in the first place, but now it is time for us to move on.

And what might we lose by giving up the time zone system? The only thing we would have to give up would be our nostalgic attachment to associating certain times of the day with certain particular numbers. So while "noon" might be associated with the number 12 for you, but it would refer to the number 17 for me. Given the headache of constantly calculating time zone differences (and often adjusting for daylight savings) familiar to anyone involved in transnational business, travel, communication, or collaboration, it seems like a very small price to pay.

The concept of a single global time zone is not one without merit, and its implementation would certainly be economically attractive and beneficial for many. But just what segment of our globalized society would really benefit from this? The growth of our global telecommunications infrastructure has become a big pain in the ass for a growing percentage of people on Earth, who are subjected to work-schedules (or lack of any semblance of a schedule) which fall far outside of the conventions in which they co-habitate. Millions of people are living out-of-synch with their neighbors, their families, and the hours that the DMV is open.

A manager may think that it is a great boon to be able to hold a weekly 2-hour conference at 1000 hours with her underlings located in branches flung across the five continents. Yet to the underlings who have to undertake this meeting at dinner time or when his wife and kids are fast asleep, this phenomena is about as popular as Wal-Mart now being open on Thanksgiving to the poor associates having to brave the Black Friday hoardes rather than eating Turkey with their families.

It is no great revelation that some folks spend much of their working lives on the night shift. I work in a factory which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. My factory manufactures plastic containers in a highly automated process. The machines my factory were built in Switzerland, Germany, France and Japan. We even own one machine which was built in that far flung backwater known as New Jersey. When breakdowns occur which result in unexpected downtime during local daytime hours, and technical assistance from the builders and programmers of the machine is needed, it may be dinner time in Europe or in the dead of the night in Asia.

Even with the miracle of the Ethernet, which can allow a technician half-way around the earth to go online with a down machine's processor to troubleshoot it, getting hold of a person and getting them out of bed to come into the office may be unlikely. Now, a 24-hour call center may be able to employ legions of unskilled, semi-literate phone-answers to assist you whenever your cable television service is disrupted, but in an industry where a machine's broken subassembly costs more than two brand new cars, well-paid engineers are dear. These people still expect to go home for dinner while the sun is still shining in the west.

The only benefit that I can see of having a single global time zone would be to make a single global workday. Everyone on earth goes to work and leaves work at the same moment, without fail! If a second or third shift is necessary, then they all start and end their shifts in similar global unison. If your boss had a weekly meeting at 1000 hours, then it would be followed by lunch for every one the world over. One could imagine something like every Civil Defense Siren on earth sounding off three times a day without a corner of the earth to escape the alarm. The trouble would be deciding who gets to eat their lunch when the sun is highest in the sky?

If one were to propose to the CEO of Siemens Energy and Automation, for example, that a single global time zone should be implemented for these reasons, he or she would likely agree that having the whole assets of Siemens Energy and Automation and all of it's global partners and customers in said time zone would be a boon. Germans love efficiency after all, right? Naturally, our CEO would also think to make 1200 hours the time of day in which the sun is highest in the sky in Germany. I think that it would be safe to say that the CEOs of General Motors and of Mitsubishi would also think that 1200 hours should be the time when the sun is highest in the sky in Detroit and Tokyo respectively.

Maybe someday, when the majority of the world's assets are owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland or whatever corporation the Illuminati are hiding behind, some all-powerful uber-executive will look up into the sky at noon, local-CEO time. He or she may tap out a memo to his underlings on his or her iPhone and decree that DeutchesBankCostcoYumFoods LLC is now on the Unified Global Time zone and all vendors and distributors had better follow suit or be banished from the gravy train.

Maybe someday. Until then, you may still have trouble traveling in Indiana.

Though the idea is attractive and embodies some great practicalities, perhaps the greatest obstacle to the adoption of one worldwide timezone will be the inevitable, possibly intractable, fight over what, exactly, that time will be. Will Midnight in Paris see the sun high in the sky? Will the 3:10 to Yuma be set in the pitch darkness of night? Will High Noon occur at daybreak? What time would Zero-Dark Thirty even be?

Given time (by which I mean a sufficient period of it), naturally, people would adjust. But it is the discomfort of launching into so radical a shift which would surely engender opposition. Let us suppose that, as with our meridians, we were to deem Greenwich Mean Time to be zero-hour, if it was midnight in Paris, it would be, well, midnight everywhere else, from San Francisco to Sydney, from Tacoma to Tokyo. But 2 AM in Tokyo would see the sun at its highest point in the sky, and in Reno it would come around sunset.

Travelers might find this inconstancy of the clocks equally disturbing. The person who has come from Berlin to New Orleans might be surprised to find that, whereas they are accustomed to going to sleep at 1 AM, the local time for this is 4 in the afternoon!! No longer could there be a universal convention of breakfast being served 'before eleven,' since 11 AM in Moscow would be well into the afternoon, and in Beijing would be after sunset. Indeed, it would no longer make sense to use midnight to refer to a time on the clock at all.

But, taking all of that as a given, it must be acknowledged that our assignment of numerical time to things is indeed arbitrary. Something to which we are conditioned solely by our existence in society, perhaps we can overcome it as readily as we learn in our travels to eat new foods and speak new words.

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