Changing the time zone for “justice”. Who comes up with these ideas?

August 23, 2007

When you think you have heard it all, the Minister of Science and Technology announces that having Venezuela shift to the GMT-4.5 time zone to the GMT-4.0 time zone is a matter of “justice” to all Venezuelans. In this way, Venezuela will use a time zone that goes right through the middle of the country, rather than the current one to its East. According to Dr. Navarro this will provide Venezuelans, whether they live on the East or West of the country with the most enjoyment of daylight, which scientific studies show has an important effect on health. Moreover said Navarro, this will allow for a more rational use of time. Ugh?

Jeez, where do I begin on this? To begin with, who had so little time on his/her hands to think of this? In any case, how does changing the time zone affect how many hours of daylight someone enjoys or not? I thought in my oppositional ignorance that at 10 degrees above the equator it does not matter whether I am in Guiria on the East of Venezuela or in the Guajira on the West, if I am at 10 degrees the number of hours of daylight are the same? No? Am I missing something?

In any case, those studies look more at the effect in places where the difference between summer and winter daylight hours may change by 3 hours, while in Venezuela daylight hours change from almost nothing in the South to one hour and eight minutes when you are 10 degrees North of the Equator. Have any of these studies been made at this latitude? Does it matter given our school habits and hours?

Is the effort and cost warranted? Is the disruption in software, synchronization and reprogramming worth it? Is the time spent on it worth it? How about our banking hours versus those in other countries? Or Stock Market hours since our almost irrelevant exchange opens at the same time as the NYSE whether summer or winter?

But more importantly: Is this type of social “justice” a priority in Venezuela. Isn’t this somewhat of a luxury? Can’t the Ministry of Science spend the money used for this in solving other more pressing problems involving more relevant “justice”?

Can it be that the Government simply wants to disrupt the scheduling of Direct TV and cable programs so they start on the half hour breaking the customary “on the hour” programming as suggested by a reader?

In any case, it looks like this harebrained project will go into effect on September 17th. With it, Venezuela will become the fifth country in the world which is not in a time zone which is an integer relative to the Greenwich time zone. The others? Myanmar, Iran, India and Afghanistan.

I guess it will be easier for those flying Conviasa from Caracas to Teheran to keep tabs of the time difference without those odious half hours being involved.

Till then, talk to you wherever you are an hour later than it used to be. Or is it an hour earlier? I guess I will have to sit down and figure it out. It’s a matter of “justice”…

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