River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Countryside Notse October

February 2020

COUNTRYSIDE NOTES October 2019 CHANGING THE CLOCKS On October 27th at 2am we have to put our clocks back an hour. News programmes for the rest of the day will be telling us that we’ll now be having an hour less daylight. No we won’t, it will merely be getting dark an hour earlier in the evening by the clock and light an hour earlier in the morning. The number of daylight hours doesn’t alter; they are determined by the tilt of the Earth’s axis. The shortest day in Britain is December 22nd, in New Zealand it’s June 22nd. Changing the clock is a contentious issue and, as always, there will be a debate on whether it comprises the safety of schoolchildren. The fact is in mid-winter, one way or other; they would either be going to, or coming home, from school in the dark. In winter the hours livestock farmers work, because of the nature of their job, are ruled by the hours of daylight, not the clock. For example, because of the risk of mass slaughter by foxes, free range hens need to be shut in at night. You can’t drive chicken and they don’t voluntarily go to bed until its getting dark, that is 10 o’clock in mid-summer and 3.30pm in winter. It’s also difficult to check the welfare of stock kept outdoors in the dark. GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) is what we have in winter and BST (British Summer Time) is what we have in summer. This was introduced in 1916 to save energy and resources. Over the years there have been a few variations. During WW11 double summertime was adopted between 1941 and 1945 and Harold Wilson’s government trialled not changing the clocks. They were put forward in March 1968 and remained at GMT+1 until October 1971. Many countries have adopted DST (Daylight Saving Time) with the exception of Iceland, Africa, Asia, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, India and, more recently, Russia. Some parts of South America and Australia observe DST while others don’t. Interestingly in Canada and the United States it’s only Hawaii and Arizona, (with the exception of the Navajo Nation) who don’t change their clocks. Countries across the EU have observed DST but have now voted to end this in 2021. The Greenwich Meridian is an imaginary line drawn between the North and South Poles. From London it crosses France, Spain and Africa where it meets the Atlantic Ocean on the coast of Ghana. Time zones are complicated things that don’t concern us in the UK; to the west of the Meridian they are earlier than GMT and to the east later. There are eleven in Russia and Asia, six in North America, Canada and Africa, five in China and three in Australia. Theoretically if each time zone varies by one hour there should be twenty four but due to regional variations there are in fact 37, some being only half an hour. Americans have an easy way of remembering to alter their clocks - ‘Spring forward and Fall back.’

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