New Tools and Technologies

Completely switch the US to the metric system by 2019

The United States is the only country that has not switched to the metric system other than Burma and Liberia [1]. The cost of not switching to the metric system is quickly increasing with the trend towards globalization.


There are very strong economic and scientific reasons to switch the US to the metric system. In fact failing to switch could result in the US losing its competitive edge in science and technology, as well as continuing to create bilateral trade impediments with other countries.


A poignant example of the economic impact of continuing to use obsolete and non-scientifically-grounded units is the Mars Climate Orbiter project, a $328 million NASA initiative which burned up on entry into the Mars atmosphere. A NASA subcontractor, Lockheed Martin, was using Imperial units rather than the metric units mandated for the project, causing the orbiter to come into orbit too low and to burn up in the outer atmosphere due to air friction [2].


The cost of switching to metric will be quickly outweighed by the economic benefits of global interoperability. This is particularly important at this time as the dominance of US companies is being challenged in the competitive atmosphere of globalization. The process of switching to the metric system will likely result in the creation of many jobs, and by using the metric system daily, the US workforce will be more prepared to work in the international marketplace.


A phased introduction of the metric system could begin by mandating that all new school textbooks, street signs, spedometers and supermarket products printed in the next 10 years use metric first or in a larger font followed by Imperial units in parentheses or in a smaller font underneath. This could be combined with a firm mandate for the country to switch completely to metric a decade from now. There is no reason full metrication of the United States could not take place in ten years. Delaying metrication will only increase the eventual cost of conversion due to continued national growth.


We the undersigned call upon the United States Government and responsible citizens of the United States everywhere to do the work necessary to implement full metrication within the next decade, by the end of 2019.


See also:






20 votes
Idea No. 2789