Friday 30 December 2011

2012- the Race to the Line

Something strange is afoot in the South Seas! Two nations in the central Pacific Ocean have changed their clocks and calendars meaning that when they were originally going to be the last in the world to see New Years Day they will now be among the first. See:

This occurrence is all to do with the International Date Line, a line on the world map that bisects the entire Eastern Hemisphere of the globe to decide when one day begins and another ends. Usually it runs neatly along the 180th Meridian, directly opposite Greenwich, but it warps here and there to take account of geography. At the Bering Straits for instance, and also when it passes through the nation of Kiribati. Kiribati is huge in area, over a million square miles, but it is almost entirely ocean and its land surface consists of a few small islands. Until 1995 the Date Line passed straight through the middle of the Kiribati islands. Because the western side of the Date Line is always a whole day ahead this meant that the country had two dates. The practical effect of this is if you visited the western side you moved into “tomorrow” and if you passed back east again you’d return to “yesterday”. It was this that caused confusion for Kayleigh in Chapter 4 of my novel Rockall, see: Kiribati overcame this problem in 1995 by giving the whole country the same date, unilaterally moving the Date Line 650 miles east.

This has now been done again in Samoa and Tokelau. As you see from the map below those two countries have jumped to the Western side of the Date Line, this means that they’ve missed out the 30th of December altogether. The story is that this is to bring the islands into a better political and economic relationship with Japan, China and other countries in that region, but their position in relation to the Date Line has been one they’ve been dallying over for almost 120 years; why has it been done now, just in time for New Years Day 2012? Is that date itself significant to those countries? Do they want to be among the first, runners up after Kiribati in fact, to see in the big year?

HPANWO-readers will be familiar with my views on the 2012 phenomenon, see: As you can see, I am well aware that the Mayan Calendar doesn’t synchronize to our modern Gregorian one at all; in fact the Mayan Calendar is centuries older. So January the 1st 2012 is no red letter day in the Mayan Calendar at all, but maybe it is in effect in the modern world. You see although the Big Day as far as the Mayans go is December the 12st 2012, this fixation in the mass human consciousness on the Gregorian year in which this big changeover will take place still has significance; culturally, psychologically, spiritually, and therefore maybe practically. Either way Samoa and Tokelau are now in pole position when before they’d have been stragglers coming in way behind the pack.

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