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A Case For The National Adoption Of The Metric System

1900 words - 8 pages

America is on the cutting edge of almost everything, except for basic units of measurement. Every nation on earth has adopted the International System of Units, or metric system, as their official system of weights and measures, with the exception of Myanmar, Liberia, and the United States of America (“CIA World Fact Book,” n.d.). Throughout history, the metric system has proven itself as a reliable, and simple to use, decimal based system of measurement. In comparison, the United States customary system is overly complicated and requires extensive conversions to apply. Despite US efforts to go metric, many Americans and American corporations oppose metrication because they see the change as unnecessary or costly to implement. To support their claims, supporters of the metric system cite the system’s world-wide acceptance, easy conversions, and note the disasters that have occurred due to dual usage or confusion of metric and non-metric units. Successful implementation by the US government will no doubt be a challenge in the current economy. The change-over will require time, resources, and enforcement. Ultimately the investment will pay off by significantly increasing international compatibility and interoperability. Adaptation to the metric system will allow the United States to join the rest of the world in a standardized system that accommodates speed and efficiency.
The metric system is designed with basic and logical units of measurement which mitigate the need for lengthy conversions. The International System of Units, or metric system, is commonly abbreviated as SI for short. The SI is a simplified and convenient system built on seven base units: meter, kilogram, second, ampere, kelvin, mole, and candela for measuring length, mass, time, electric current, thermodynamic temperature, amount of substance and luminosity (“BIPM,” n.d.). Units for measuring all other quantities are derived in the SI by multiplying and dividing these base units (meters per second or m/s for example). This enables the metric system to almost completely eliminate the need for unit conversion factors in calculations. Derived SI units have names of their own, for example newton, pascal, joule, volt, ohm, and watt. In order to provide conveniently sized units for all applications, the SI assigns a set of prefixes: milli, micro, nano, kilo, mega, and giga; that can be used to derive decimal multiples or submultiples of units (Cardarelli, 2003). These metric prefixes often require conversion factors in calculations, but they are all powers of ten, which are easy to convert simply by shifting the decimal point. The metric system is an uncomplicated system that works, which is why it has been so eagerly adopted by 95% of the world today.
Unlike the metric system, the customary system used in the United States has several units of measurement for each task. These units of measurement require extensive, and sometimes confusing, conversions to be accurately applied....

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