Summertime – A Question of Morals?

As you can easily see in the IF blog, these days I like discussing morals.
Today, I was wondering about summertime. Or rather: about the switching from summertime to wintertime. It is also meant to be a “use case” for my topic “Deciding under Morals”.

Next Sunday will again be the time to do it: all of a sudden, the light of day will come earlier and, of course, darkness will fall earlier, as well. And as always twice each year, I will again feel a little dizzy for a few days because of a mini Jetlag. Unfortunately, however, this will not have been caused by a move from one place to another.

And I asked myself why everybody seems to have such a huge problem with abolishing something that is apparently nonsense, both for me and many others.

Let us remember:
The introduction of the summertime was again initialized in Germany in 1978. Yet it took until 1980 before it was reality. I said “again” because summertime is a legacy from the war and post-war days, both of WW-1 and WW-2. As always, you will find good informations on the topic in Wikipedia.

In the late 1970ies, we had “what felt like an energy crisis”. There was the general belief that changing to summertime would save energy. And since “saving energy” is such a good thing and morally so very correct, they decided to introduce the summertime.

Now it seems clear that the statement “summertime will save energy” can be neither proved nor disproved. Now “they” could decide to abolish the summertime.

Rationally, the entire affair would be easy – because the yearly change causes extra work and damage. For example because there are more traffic accidents. The same is true intuitively (emotionally). After all, who wants all this stress caused by the change of time zones.

But we also have morals. As you all know, I believe they often the main reason for decisions. And this is where I see poor chances for abolishing the summertime:

  • “After all, nobody can decide this single-handedly”.
(Like evil Putin, who – as we all know, – abolished the summertime)!
  • “How to justify such a step in the eyes of other European countries?”
(Well, we no longer want to be part of this nonsense.)
  • Maybe such a decision would have disadvantages we have not yet thought about?”
    (Maybe it will save energy after all?)
  • We had the summertime for such a long time! Why change it now?

Lacking the courage to change things, doubts and fear are all about morals. More often than not, they will slow down decision processes and prevent reforms and change.

In the “theory of decision making”, it says that it no longer makes a lot of sense to judge all other rather minor and non-relevant reasons if you have two major reasons why to decide in favour of something. I presume this is also true for collective decisions like this one.

Incidentally, I would continue with the summertime, because it simply is the best match for the geographic length we live in .And if the “old” wintertime returns, I will simply reset my rhythm of life to start one hour earlier.

(Translated by EG)

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