28 Sep 2017

Dear National Geographic: Please use metric units!

I sent this in, but here's your copy :)
Dear editor,

The ongoing use of imperial units (feet, Fahrenheit, etc.) is one reason why Americans are disengaged from climate change. When they read reports with “foreign words,” they may (wrongly) assume that those words don’t apply in the US — just as Euro prices or Chinese language don't apply.

National Geographic brings complex topics into common understanding. Using the units of global discussion and scientific research would help Americans engage with those topics. Please consider adding metric units to help your readers access these very important topics.

David Zetland, PhD
A US citizen living in The Netherlands


  1. David,

    As an American, I blame all this on our former imperial overlords- the British.

    I am at least thankful that we didn't take up the practice of measuring our body weight in stone!

    1. Yep. Drop a stone on your foot and it hurts a lot more than a pound! ;)

  2. Unfortunately, the stubbornness and just plain laziness of Americans in general will keep us measuring in feet and pounds for a long time to come I fear. I am proud to be an American born and bred, but we are a lazy country that is not very accepting to change. The average American knows and understands what a gallon of milk is and they don't want to have to figure out if a 150 "METER" golf shot is a 5 or 6 iron.

    Hey, we've been using english weights and measures for this long, what's the harm in it? Well it's not the fact that we measure in inches instead of millimeters, it's the unwillingness to change that holds us back and keeps us from becoming an even better country to be proud of.

    Changing over to the metric system is a bit like taking medicine when we are sick, we know that it is for the better but we still don't want to do it.


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