Metric System Adoption in the United States

The United States is one of only 3 countries that has not adopted a metric system of measurement. The SI (international system of units) is the most popular standard: Meter, Kilogram, Second, Ampere, Kelvin, Candela, Mole.

Given that SI is a standard system of measurement in science, and that U.S. is one of the leading nations in scientific and technological innovation, it’s a constant source of confusion for me why U.S. has not yet adopted the metric system.

There have been many attempts by the federal government to encourage the use of the metric system, such as the 1975 Metric Conversion Act. However, the private sector has simply refused to change, and so progress has been slow.

One are where the metric system has successful “infiltrated” in America is the Nutrition Facts label on most products. Though my libertarian friends may collapse in horror, I think these are the types of government-enforced overhauls that are required for complete adoption of the metric system. For example, we could replace all speed limit and road signs to include both miles and kilometers and then declare that in 2020 we will switch completely to kilometers.

Then again, few politicians could effectively argue that the enormous cost of such a program justifies the long-term benefits. It’s a tough sell to average Joe who takes a chug of his 22 ounce beer bottle every time his favorite running back runs for a gain of a couple yards.

0 thoughts on “Metric System Adoption in the United States

  1. Loren

    All cars and trucks made in the United States for general consumers are metric. On the other hand, Harley-Davidson motorcycles are all “standard.”

    Reply
  2. Simon Lewenstein

    Hi Folks! It looks to me like there’s little or no serious opposition to metric, but a fair level of inertia among the populace in general. Bringing metric into common usage—in my view—will require a few years of teaching it universally at the earliest opportunities, such as in kindergarten and/or earlier when possible… parents wiling. Make it an integral part of teaching length measurements in general, and have nice meter sticks on hand along with some ugly, beat-up old yard sticks and shorter rulers as well. Get kids to relate to those easy decimal multiples by having metric rulers and meter sticks around, and using the metric terms and units every day:

    To this old man’s mind, that seems to be a route to eventual adoption.

    Simon Lewenstein, JPT Graphics, Irving, TX
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    PS — include some nice wall-mounted height rulers, so the kids can stand there and get their height in metric. Also, maybe it would lend a bit of pizzaz to the metric system if its history were BRIEFLY explained:
    Napoleon’s engineers & their survey of France to estimate the equator-to-pole
    distance, and defining the meter to be 1 ten-millionth of that.

    Simon Lewenstein, 71 years old, and a bit too heavy
    at 87 kilos, and measuring in at 1.83 meters

    Reply
  3. Joel May

    I hope the government does force metric adoption. The way it’s going we will forever be measuring in °F, weighing ourselves in lbs, and being feet and inches tall. It makes no sense to keep the archaic system just because people don’t want to try to understand the metric units.

    And I like my height in metric better than imperial: 2.0 meters vs. 6 feet 7 inches.

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