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Is it Time to Switch to the Metric System?

Why hasn't the U.S made the switch to the metric system?

As a swimmer, it’s always frustrating that I have to convert my meter to yards or vise versa. Moreover, the conversion isn’t always one to one. The farther you swim, the better or worse your performance goes. These problems are not just limited to swimming. I’m sure many Americans suffer from converting kilometers to yards, centimeters to Fahrenheit, etc. It’s caused much confusion including a downing of a satellite over Mars. If the customary units of America are that problematic, why hasn’t America taken time to switch and be in sync with the rest of the world?

The answer is simple: cost. Switching every existing sign, devices, and other daily objects would cost 730 million dollars to switch. (1) Some argue that the current system works fine, which it does, but it’s also a pain for Americans to constantly convert. It seems like we’ll be asking Google and Siri, or we will?

On December 23rd, 1975, President Gerald R Ford signed into law the Metric Conversion Act. It basically declared that the metric system is the main unit for commerce, allowing for smoother trade. A United States Metric Board also came with the bill, but was declared a failure. The goal of the organization was to promote more usage of the metric system, but without actual enforcement or severe steps taken to implement such activities, it was basically useless. (2)

However, all is not lost. With a greater amount of Americans understanding the need for the metric system, more Americans are using the metric system. In schools, for instance, all chemistry, biology, and other science classes use the metric system. There’s also a highway in Arizona known as Interstate 19. As part of a Department of Transportation grant, the highway was given all metric signs. Some residents quickly advocated for customary unit signs, but many advised against the switch, citing that the metric system was what made the highway usage.

In the end, America should convert to the metric system. It makes everything easier for its citizens and economics.


  1. https://science.howstuffworks.com/why-us-not-on-metric-system4.htm
  2. http://www.us-metric.org/metric-conversion-act-of-1975/

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