Restoration of planetary time

There is a temporal dimension that characterizes all areas of public life, and more and more attention is paid to the social and political sciences. From periods of democratic representation and investment plans, through professional sector fluctuations and human development records; each action in the public space is delimited into annual, monthly or weekly cycles. The time factor is constantly being rationalized in our time as a valuable resource on which both efficiency and well-being depend.

In the era of the rise of industrial capitalism, the creation of an international timetable that unites the various regions of the planet has become an obsession with investors and politicians. The division of urban spaces, land boundaries and production cycles brought about by advances in transportation and communications has required the homologation of interim guidelines that define the rhythms of work, leisure and entertainment. The expansion of telegraph lines and railway stations required the assimilation of universal time by nation-states, which would cement the formation of modern societies, defined by the Irish historian Benedict Anderson as “imaginary communities”.

The distribution of railway time in the capitalist cities played a decisive role in the standardization of time at the international level. Thanks to the foresight of the Canadian engineer Sandford Fleming (1827-1915), the creation of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) was designed, which provided for the division of the planet into 24 latitudes or geographical zones with their corresponding time zone. The appointment of the Royal Greenwich Observatory as a point that fixed the antimeridian of the same name emphasized the maritime, industrial and diplomatic power of the British crown at the end of the 19th century.

The division of the planet into time zones at the initiative of the International Congress of Meridians allowed the creation of Coordinated Universal Time at the end of the 19th century. Photo: Wikimedia

Since the International Meridian Conference (Washington, D.C., 1884), more and more countries have adopted UTC, which established the International Date Line at the 180th meridian in the Central Pacific. Since the International Time Office was completed in Paris in 1911, almost all countries have used the Greenwich Meridian Time (GMT) as their reference. This decision put an end to the distribution of dozens of official clocks within a single national territory, which had a beneficial effect on trade, passenger traffic and interocean communications.

The adoption of specific time zones included the possibility of daylight saving time at certain times of the year to promote efficient energy use in the public, domestic and industrial sectors.

The adoption of a specific time zone has caused deep reflection of states with geographical and geopolitical features. This is the case of the Republic of Kiribati, whose territorial space is located on both sides of the international line, which in 1995 adopted the UTC + 13 time zone to use the same date as its trading partners from Australia and New Zealand. . Incidentally, the small island nation became one of the first populated places in the world to celebrate the New Year, which increased the influx of mass tourism.

The Republic of Kiribati, due to its proximity to the International Date Line, is one of the first territories on the planet to celebrate the new year. Photo: Pixabay Images

The situation of the People’s Republic of China, which has united its entire territory in an exclusive time zone – Beijing, including autonomous regions located thousands of kilometers west of its capital, is no less widely reported.

Even more striking are the countries that divide their respective time zones into half an hour and even a quarter of an hour, such as Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The Royal Greenwich Observatory in the United Kingdom is the reference antimeridian for the nations of the world. Photo: Getty Images

The adoption of the official timetable was also the result of processes of political detente, as happened during Kim Jong-un’s visit to the demilitarized border zone, where he agreed with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in to synchronize Seoul and Pyongyang in a common time zone. . . .

In today’s world, marked by the interdependence of markets, global financial transactions and the synchronization of working rhythms, the work of Sandford Fleming is becoming increasingly relevant. The professional and emotional intimacy that the Internet is promoting in the digital age makes us feel ever closer to the beings of this planet, no matter the geographic latitude or climate season we are in.

Source: Juventud Rebelde


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