I’ve already mentioned in this blog that I believe that the United States is not only holding itself back with regard to its lack of metric adoption but we serve as a bad example for our sister countries such as the United Kingdom and Canada. While both of the aforementioned countries use the metric system much more in daily life than we do here, the changeover has been less than complete in both. When I asked a metric authority in the U.K. why the conversion was less than 100 percent in his country, the basic answer was “Because you don’t use it.” As I heard the words escape his mouth, I not only knew he was right but I was embarrassed as an American that our country could have had such a backward influence.
Well, we’re apparently striking again.
Newspaper reports started coming out earlier this month saying that there is a move afoot to put a stronger emphasis on imperial units in the U.K. primary school system. [see notes below]
One article included the subhead: “Education minister Elizabeth Truss has announced that the new primary curriculum will put more focus on imperial measurements.” [note A]
When I contacted the head of the U.K. Metric Association, he indicated that “The current position is that metric is the primary system in schools but a few imperial equivalents are taught to help children with shopping etc. The Department of Education has said there would be no significant change.”
But still, any shift toward imperial from metric units represents a backslide as far as I’m concerned. This wouldn’t even likely be under discussion if we, as a nation, had moved to a metric system 200 years ago when Thomas Jefferson wanted us to!
While internationally people’s gaze have started to shift from the United States to China as the world’s economic superpower (Yep, you read that right. [note B]) it is quite clear that the U.K. relies on us for revenue from exports as in “The USA has the largest and most technologically powerful economy in the world and is Britain’s largest single export market.” [note C]
As long as the U.K. depends on us for revenue and we continue to ignorantly stumble forward with an antiquated measurement system more backsliding is possible elsewhere in the world. This is, at least until we’re no longer a global economic superpower.
Would converting to the metric system help us economically in the world marketplace? I’m not qualified to answer that question but it seems likely to me that a complete changeover to the metric system might help us better compete.
Do we really want to find out too late that it was something we should have done? Why would we even want to take that chance?