|Home | Issues | The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 71, Tuesday June 9, 2009|
Can daylight saving save us?
Now, this topic of 'shifting time' has been a hot one ever since wind of the change started doing its rounds. Time left to its own devices is hard enough to grapple with, but when a change in time is forced upon us it becomes all the more difficult to grasp. The Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources has even announced a campaign with a view to clearing up the confusion.
A common thing to be overheard at cafeteria tables and tea stalls is: “Wait! Wait! From the 20th onwards we will move forward by one hour, right? That means if its twelve o clock now, after the change it will be…..” and the end of that sentence, whether correct or not, will invariably lead to more debate.
To avoid confusion, it is best to look at time in two forms. One is universal time; doesn't change no matter what the digital display on your mobile says. A second is a second, and an hour is an hour. The other is what our clocks say; it is that which tells us when it is time to go to the office and when it's time to turn on the TV to watch 'News at Ten'.
It is the latter which will change on June 20 and change back again in September. To finish the oft-uttered sentence, when it is 11:59:59 PM on the night of June 19, the next second will take the time to 1:00 AM, June 20. We will be moving forward in time. Although universal time will remain unaffected, we will have shifted our day to day activities by one hour with regard to the daylight.
The rationale behind this decision is that if we wake up one hour earlier everyday, it follows that we will use more of the daylight. If we are awake for one extra hour of daylight, then we will use up less electricity in the form of lights at nighttime, as we need to sleep early to wake up early. Sure, our body clocks will probably take a few days to adjust to the one-hour time shift, but it will fall into line in due time.
For Dhaka, even more pertinent is the fact that all the retail shops and malls, a major drain on electrical resources close at eight in the evening. Whereas now, with the sun setting at around 6:30 PM, the shops have to light up for close to two hours before closing, after daylight saving time is introduced they will have to be lit up for less than an hour. Electricity cannot be saved, only reallocated, so the shops consuming less electricity mean more electricity for households.
Of course, this is not a quick fix. There are loopholes. One has to ask the question: Do most offices have their lights off during daylight? Also, we have to remember that a large portion of our electricity is used to power air conditioners and other cooling devices, which have no connection with the daylight. Our electricity crisis is so severe that no one decision or policy can eradicate it.
Having said that, this new system will have some, though limited, positive effect. As mentioned above, it will reallocate the electricity to households with the shops closing earlier. However, increased awareness among the populace is needed to turn the battle against the energy crisis into an eventual victory. We need to cut out all our excess usage of electricity. All fans, air conditioners and lights need to be turned off when not required. Daylight saving time can only help us if we allow it to.
Jhinga khus khus (Prawn kebab coated with poppy seeds)
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