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98.5% of the world's countries has adopted the International System of Units (or SI units), which utilizes meters, kilograms, degrees Kelvin/Celsius, etc. as base units. The United States is one of three countries in the world that has not officially adopted SI units, instead preferring customary units such as feet and pounds. Some argue that there are too many aspects of life in the United States that are too culturally entwined to US customary units to adopt SI units. However, in today's globalized world, not adopting SI units may harm the US more than it helps.

Do you think the US should adopt SI units? Why or why not?

asked Jul 13 '10 at 23:44

Baoster%20Wowster's gravatar image

Baoster Wowster

edited Jul 14 '10 at 18:44

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YES!!!!! Hell, the reason Canada went metric is because the US was planning on it. But then again, an imperial system does seem to fit the US

answered Jul 14 '10 at 16:24

ephraim613's gravatar image


Were so trapped and in the old system and our country is probably the hardest in the world to change. Mostly because of distance, were the largeat country in the world where there are a lot of people living everywhere. It's not like that in Canada or Russia where everyone lives near the border where it's warm. Updates take a VERY long time.

But we're making progress, American cars have MPH and KPH.

answered Jul 14 '10 at 00:10

kyle_on_the_radio's gravatar image


The United States has many things culturally entwined with customary units. For example, imagine American football with meters instead of yards; it's a hard concept for many United States citizens to accept culturally.

(Jul 14 '10 at 12:37) Baoster Wowster Baoster%20Wowster's gravatar image

Agreed, but we use the metric system in track, and people run 5k and 10k road races, we know both systems well. Most of us can eyeball a meter.

But yes, the cultural system is Old English.

(Jul 14 '10 at 22:24) kyle_on_the_radio kyle_on_the_radio's gravatar image

I do believe we should through a long transitional phase. From how intertwined it is and the massive costs to do so, it would take at least 3-4 decades if not more to fully adopt SI Units at this point.

answered Jul 14 '10 at 16:43

Granit's gravatar image


I find it interesting that road measurements were required to be in metric until about five years ago. Then they went back to just feet and inches. That change made me realize that we would (never) get it right. At least not in my lifetime.

Yes I think we should change, but the reality is that even parts made in China are coming in in inches. So we are reverse engineering societies that have adapted SI!

It really is so much easier to figure out SI measurements rather than fractions.

answered Jul 14 '10 at 17:07

smcade's gravatar image


Many countries adopted metric decades ago, why hasn't the US done it already? The US is so up there with the digital age you would think they would change something so easy as metric.

answered Jul 13 '10 at 23:56

Geenome's gravatar image


edited Jul 13 '10 at 23:58

It would actually be pretty difficult to change to the metric system instantaneously. It is pretty difficult to learn after we have been using our system for so long. Let me ask the English this: Why don't you try to learn our system?

That's not to say that you should, but think about it, it would be just as difficult for you to do it as us learning the metric system. The government and companies should start to slowly introduce it to get people used to it. And that means more than just in your car and on a thermometer.

answered Jul 14 '10 at 16:36

Josh_M's gravatar image


Ok so I'm not English - I'm Scottish but we use the same system. And to answer your question, most of us CAN use imperial. All of our road signs are in miles, I know that I'm 5ft8 but don't know my height in metres and I can work in lb and oz as well as kg. You have to remember that we used to use imperial in Britain too, there would have been a point where we decided to change and obviously that change is still happening. I don't see any reason why the US couldn't manage it as well.

Once you know how to use it, the metric system actually makes more sense. Temperature in Celcius is based on water - it freezes at 0 and boils at 100. One cubic centimetre is the same as one millilitre and, if it's water, weighs one gram. Really to learn the metric system, you just need to know the prefixes - milli, centi and kilo. Take metres - 1m = 1000mm = 100cm = 0.001km. Pretty much the same goes for weight and volume. Simple

(Jul 14 '10 at 19:25) Greenfire1001 Greenfire1001's gravatar image

The SI system is based one ten not that hard. And if you need to know say how many meters are in a kilometer take the prefix off the word like kilometer kilo means 1,000 so 1,000 meters. I personally like it much more then our ackward system.

(Jul 15 '10 at 13:36) sulljason sulljason's gravatar image

Josh_M, Let me ask you this: Where do you think "your" system came from!? Almost the entire rest of the world has changed from another system to SI over the last few decades. I'm sure even Americans could manage it with a bit of effort.

answered Jul 14 '10 at 16:45

freon101's gravatar image


I'm not saying we can't. I just said it would be difficult. The question was posed to get you to think about how difficult it would be for you to switch your measurements immediately. Did you ever have to switch one increment for another yourself? If not, then you do not understand how difficult it could be and the question was posed to make you think about that before complaining about why the US "hasn't changed yet". Granit has the right idea and is right along the lines of what I meant. Read my comment again before trying to argue something, sir.

(Jul 14 '10 at 16:49) Josh_M Josh_M's gravatar image

Yes I have changed. I'm 54 years old and live in Australia. We changed from Pounds, Shillings and Pence to Dollars and Cents in 1966, then from Imperial to Metric measurement in the mid '70s. My comment was more in relation to your "English" comment as that's where the imperial system originally came from.

I do understand the difficulties imposed in changing but America has an advantage in that you already have a metric money system, Dollars and Cents, and if you relate measurement to that it's not so difficult to understand:

The basis of money is the Dollar and 100 cents = 1 dollar

The basis of metric length is the Metre (slightly bigger than a yard) and 100 CENTimetres = 1 Metre. To go more than that just add zeros till you get to 1000 and give it another name: Kilo. ie: Kilometre

For volume the basis is the Litre. 100 cubic CENTimetres = 1 litre

It can be daunting for the elderly but young people pick it up very quickly and within a decade it will be entrenched. It can't and won't happen instantaneously. We used both systems quite successfully for a few years and slowly phased the old one out. A lot of old people still think in and use the old system but have no trouble relating it to the metric one.

(Jul 14 '10 at 17:44) freon101 freon101's gravatar image

That is exactly what I was saying. I am not opposed to learning the metric system when it comes to meters and kilometers or whatever, it's just getting people to do it.

(Jul 15 '10 at 13:27) Josh_M Josh_M's gravatar image

We should convert to the metric system because it is a much easier system to use than the so-called English system. However, it would be a huge cost to do so, and it would take a while for everyone to get use to the metric system. For a global economy, everyone should be using the same system of measure.

answered Jul 14 '10 at 17:05

bradto's gravatar image


What's so difficult about learning a new system? I can (almost) understand the Imperial system. I suppose since you haven't implemented the metric system yet you're not about to change that any time soon.

answered Jul 14 '10 at 17:12

Paddis's gravatar image


Coming from the medical world (working in clinics and hospitals), it is already required that we document in the metric system, for safety's sake. Twenty years ago, I was already being forced to negotiate the waters of knowing both systems. When I visited England for the first time, I had to learn what a "stone" was in terms of pounds and kilos. We are never too old to learn, but the transition should be natural. Packaging and signs could start placing the metric system units in bold type and first, with the customary units second.

The hardest adjustment for me has been using Asian and European cookbooks, with recipes listed only in SI units. Then again, what the hell is a "dash" of anything? :)

answered Jul 14 '10 at 18:08

VideoNurse's gravatar image


That's actually quite funny because over here I have the same problem with cookbooks in imperial. I never can remember how many grams or millilitres is in a cup.

(Jul 14 '10 at 19:31) Greenfire1001 Greenfire1001's gravatar image

"what the hell is a "dash" of anything?" About a smidging more than a pinch, IIRC ;)

(Jul 14 '10 at 22:52) freon101 freon101's gravatar image
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Asked: Jul 13 '10 at 23:44

Seen: 13,651 times

Last updated: Jul 27 '10 at 18:31