As a student in an American school, I have spent a great deal of time in mathematics and science classes memorizing conversion factors for inches to meters, Fahrenheit to Celsius, and pounds to kilograms. Every time I wondered, “Is this necessary?” The United States Customary Units are present almost everywhere we look despite being an archaic and ineffective system that the world would be better off without. Our official system is a derivative of the old English Imperial system that the colonists held decided to keep in the New World and the Founding Fathers chose to maintain after America gained independence.
Our customary unit system has no consistency. Conversion factors for increasing units range from 3 (feet/yard), to 1760 (yard/mile), and even to 2000 (pounds/ton). Even these units aren’t constant every time they are used. For example, nautical miles are 1.151 times the standard mile measurement. The metric system, however, uses metric prefixes with power of 10. Each basic unit in the metric system (meters, kilograms, liters) takes on a prefix and either increases or decreases by some factor of 10. Some argue that the US Customary units are preferred because integer numbers with fractions in inches are easier to remember than decimals but the metric prefixes allow any number to be written as an integer.
This system of unit measurements is imposed on every student –but only in the US. Almost every other country in the world, with the exception of Myanmar and Liberia has adopted the metric system as their internationally agreed upon measurement system. The countries of the Common Wealth of Nations have all decided that a uniform system of measurements for length, volume, and mass is needed to help world progression into an international society. Our US government has even stated that the metric system is superior to the US Customary Units for trade and commerce with the Omnibus Trade and Competiveness Act of 1988.
The logical conclusion is that the US Customary Units should be purged and replaced by the metric system. Not only would all seventh graders struggling to memorize conversions appreciate it, but the United States would be even more effective and a member of our International society.