I believe that the United States should convert to the metric system of measurements, but that it should be gradual so people can adjust over time.
Why convert to the metric system? There are two main reasons I can think of. One is that the entire world uses the metric system — except the United States. The other reason is that it is a much simpler system than the system we use now.
What difference does it make if we are the only country that doesn’t use the metric system? Because we don’t exist in isolation from the rest of the world. We import things from other countries and we export to other countries. If we export things using our own system of measurements, in many cases it will make our products less useful for people in other countries so they will have less reason to buy our products. This applies especially to machinery that needs service by others after they buy it. If they have to deal with inches, feet, ounces, pounds, etc., when they didn’t learn these measurements and don’t have the tools to work with our measurements, they will tend to be discouraged in using those products. Likewise, most of the things we import use metric measurements, so for us it is a problem trying to tighten a 15 milimeter bolt when we don’t have a 15mm wrench and the ones we have are either too big or to small.
How is the metric system simpler? Let’s use our traditional units of length as an example. There are twelve inches in a foot, three feet in a yard, and 1760 yards in a mile. How many feet are there in a mile? Multiply 1760 times 3 to get 5280. How many inches are in a mile? That would be 5280 times 12 – never mind, I’ll let you do the math! In the metric system there are 100 centimeters in meter, and 1000 meters in a kilometer. How many centimeters are in a kilometer? That would be 100 times 1,000 = 100,000. In the metric system the units are related to each other by powers of ten – 10, 100, 1000, etc. It is much easier to multiply or divide in powers of ten than is by 3, 12, 1760, etc. Click here for more comparisons of the two systems.
We already use the metric system for some things, and we are used to it. Think about it – ways you probably use the metric system and probably have no problem with it. because you are used to it. Think about these uses: Medicine comes in milligrams milliliters and other metric units; Many photographic film sizes are in millimeters, such as 8mm, 16mm, 35mm, etc,; some soda pop bottle sizes, such as the 2 liter bottle; liquor bottles, such as 750 ml.
How can we gradually convert to the metric system? Currently in the United States product container labels have the weight or volume listed first in traditional measurements then, usually in parentheses, in metric units, I suggest that in the first phase the units be reversed, listing first in metric units then in tradeitional units. For example now a typical can of soda says, “12 FL OZ (355 mL).” My suggestion would change this to, “355 mL (12 FL OZ).” Then my suggestion for a second phase would be to round the volume or weight into more even metric units, so that the soda pop, for example, might change to 350, 360, or 400 ml. The new amount would be determined by the relevant industry or manufacturer. I think a good idea would be to adopt the same sizes as Canada and/or Mexico.
©2012 Robert M. Fleming Jr.
This page was last updated on 12 May 2016.
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