Science

Should America adopt the metric system?

Should America adopt the metric system?
WRITTEN BY
03/26/21
vs

Luna (Yes)

Ninety-five percent of the world’s population uses the metric system. If America adopts it as well, transactions would be made easier for all. And smoother transactions would reduce the chances of conversion errors. Converting to the metric system would make trading easier, as currently, US manufacturers have to produce two versions of all their products, one with imperial measurement units and the other with the standard metric system. 

Students in STEM fields would benefit from having a singular measurement system to solve math problems and analyze scientific results. And when American students visit foreign universities, they could depend on the standardized metric system without adopting a whole new measurement scale. It would also help them in daily tasks like grocery shopping, finding correct clothing sizes, and paying for local transport abroad. 

The metric system is also relatively easy to learn. The metric measurement scale has all the unit names deriving from the same root word, eliminating the hassle of learning a new terminology for every subscale. For example, when measuring in grams, you only need to add a prefix for another measurement like milligram, centigram, and kilogram. On the other hand, in the imperial measurement system, all the words vary widely (pounds, tons, ounces), making it harder to remember. 

Additionally, the metric system has precise units. The scale is flexible to enable complete accuracy. For instance, if you measure in grams and require more precision, you can use milligrams. With this scale, you can go as high or as minuscule as needed. 

Because of its ease and practicality, America should adopt the metric system. 


Anna (No)

In the United States, adopting the metric system has been a long-term conversation between those of the 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' mindset and those who claim the metric system would reap undeniable benefits. Despite this, legislative steps to implement the metric system have not been taken since the 1970s, and for good reason. Making a nation-wide change to the metric system would result in a costly bill for simple alterations like packaged products, housing/lot sizes, temperature, road signs, and switching vehicle production to read kilometers-per-hour rather than miles-per-hour. 

There are other negatives to switching to the metric system, aside from the costs of such a conversion. If speed limit signage were changed to reflect kilometers, people might inadvertently be putting others at risk by misinterpreting the new limits. Also, professions that rely heavily on the imperial system may make conversion mistakes, leading to various business errors or even a revenue loss if an item is shipped incorrectly. Furthermore, a switch to the metric system would make it easier for big corporations to transfer jobs out of the US. 

Many companies already include both metric and imperial measurements on their products, including medications and nutrition labels. In schools, students already benefit from learning both the metric and imperial systems, as STEM fields require the metric system, and a student must be fluent in both forms of measurement to excel. 

Finally, for those individuals who have no desire to be fluent in both measurements, conversion tables are accessible on many technologies for any type of needed calculation. 

The high cost, impracticality, and potential for error that converting to the metric system would bring outweighs the benefits. 

Fact Box

  • Besides the United States, the only other countries that haven’t officially established the metric system as the standard are Liberia and Myanmar
  • The imperial system of measurements upon which America’s measuring standards are based was codified in England’s Weights and Measures Act from 1824, which aimed to provide “precise definitions of selected existing units.”
  • The metric system, also known as a decimal or base-ten system, was developed in France and was officially adopted by the French government in 1795; however, its use there was not compulsory until 1840.
  • A 2015 Rasmussen Reports survey revealed that only 21% of respondents think that the US “should formally adopt the internationally-used metric system of measurement.”
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