Debate photos courtesy of families; (all other images)

Should America Switch to the Metric System?

Miles mark the distance on a road trip. Cups measure ingredients when you bake. And inches show how tall you are. These units make up our system of measurement, known as the U.S. customary system, adapted from the British imperial system.

But most countries use a different system called the metric system. They measure in units like kilometers, liters, and grams. Only three countries in the world don’t use the metric system: Liberia, Myanmar, and the U.S.

Over the years, there have been attempts to go metric in the U.S. Though none ever fully caught on, we actually use a bit of both systems. For example, NASA uses some metric measurements in its space operations.

Some say it’s time for the U.S. to switch fully. They point out that the metric system is less confusing since it is based on units of 10. For example, 1,000 grams equals 1 kilogram. In the U.S. system, 16 ounces equals 1 pound. But others argue that it would be difficult for an entire country to learn a new way to measure.

Here’s what two of our readers think.

Measurement should be universal so everybody is able to understand, no matter where you are in the world. It can be confusing to have to convert when you travel to a different country.

Most American engineers and doctors use the metric system. They say if everyone used it, there would be fewer mistakes because people wouldn’t have to convert. Plus, it's simpler. Isn’t it easier to remember that water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius than at 32 degrees Fahrenheit?

There’s an old saying, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” Totally getting rid of our current system of measurement would be hard. People would need to learn a whole new way to measure. And it would cost billions of dollars. Think about it: every mile marker, speed limit sign, and food label in the U.S. would have to be changed. 

Also, not using the metric system makes America unique. There’s nothing wrong with being different.

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