I once took a trip to Ontario, Canada for business. While there, I watched a local newscast. It was February and when the weatherman came on, he said the high was going to be -2 degrees. Yikes! However, that was using the Metric system. As an American, I’ll admit I was a bit clueless on what that meant to me. I did some digging and found out that meant it was going to be 21 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s still cold, but not -2 degrees cold.
It was also trippy to see speed limit signs that said 100 km/h. At first I thought, “Wow! These people can really go fast up here.” It turns out 100 km/h is about 62 miles per hour.
I remember in Junior High learning about the Metric system. What struck me was how logical it was. Though it was different than what I was used to, it made sense.
For giggles, ask 10 people how many feet are in a mile. I’ll bet you a nickel most will say, “I don’t have any idea.” (The answer is 5,280 feet in a mile). If you go to Canada and ask 10 people how many meters are in a kilometer, I’m sure you’re going to the right answer. Heck, they may tease you and ask you, “What’s next? Are you going to ask me how many minutes are in an hour?”
How messed up is the system we use in America compared to the Metric system? Here is a fun chart that’s been floating around:
Now, this graphic states that “the rest of the world” uses the Metric system. That’s not quite true.
Here’s map to show which parts of the world use the Metric system, and which don’t:
Aside from the USA, Burma (Myanmar) and Liberia (and according to this map, Antarctica) are using different systems other than Metric.
I could go into all of the history of why the USA hasn’t switched, but there are better, more detailed articles on the subject you can read if you really want to know.
If I were to guess why we haven’t switched, it would be a combination of a few things. First, it would cost a boatload of money to switch all the signs.
Second, we’re used to it. In general, people don’t like change—especially to things that are so common place. (My whole adult life I’ve been 6’3”. What if I had to tell people I was now 191 cm? I’d sound like a giant! On the other hand, my weight number would be cut in more than half, so that could be a good thing . . .)
Third, I believe it might be a pride thing. I’m proud to be an American. I’m not always proud of what the government does, but that’s a blog for another time. In my opinion, I can see a lot of Americans not seeing the need to change because we’re America—people should change to us.
I realized I was posting this blog close to Valentine’s day, so to keep in that spirit, I’ll end with this: