From Fahrenheit to Celsius: Should US Convert?
The United States is the only major industrialized country in the world that does not use the Celsius scale and the metric system as its predominant system of measurement, according to a report released by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
"One of the strengths of the SI, International System of Units, commonly known as the metric system, is its simplicity and ease of use," according to NIST Metric Conversion Subject Matter Expert Elizabeth Gentry.
One of the factors that makes the Celsius scale seemingly easier to use is that most of the common temperature reference points are simpler when converted to Celsius.
"I can completely understand why Celsius is so much easier, mainly because the key temperature points are so much easier to remember," Accuweather Expert Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson said.
For people that find it easier to actually calculate the conversion from Fahrenheit to Celsius, there is a relatively simple formula. You take the degree Fahrenheit that you want to convert, subtract 32, then multiply by 5/9.
Since the role of foreign trade and communication is becoming increasingly more important in the United States, it is necessary to maximize efficiency between countries. This includes matching the measurement system in the U.S. to the system used in the vast majority of other countries.
"It will be beneficial to us [to use Celsius] since we interact with the world so much now," said Anderson. There have been multiple attempts made to convert the United States over to the metric system in the past.
Congress passed the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 in order to increase the use of the metric system in the United States. However, this Act called for a process of voluntary conversion, meaning that it is at the discretion of the American public to convert to the metric system.
"Because the U.S. Congress determined that metric system use would be voluntary, we anticipate the transition process to continue gradually, punctuated by increased use as consumers build familiarity with SI measurements," Gentry said.
A common misconception is that it would be too hard for the American public to switch to the metric system since they are so familiar with the current system of measurement.
"No one wants to change," said Anderson. "It's kind of like growing pains- there will be the initial pain and fear of learning something new, but it would make many lives easier down the line."
There are many options available that can help increase familiarity with using metric temperature measurements.
Many online sources are now offering "dual" unit options, which offer temperature information in both Fahrenheit and Celsius. This is one way to help people familiarize themselves with the metric system because they are able to directly compare Celsius to the customary temperature scale used in the United States.
These dual unit options have been increasing in popularity, specifically in sites that deal with travel and tourism. It is important that American citizens are able to understand the weather conditions in other countries that they are traveling to that use the Celsius scale.
"Weather and climate can impact everything from the clothing a tourist packs, the outdoor activities they engage in, to the businesses that benefit when unseasonable weather drives tourists inside," Gentry said.
Despite the fact that it seems to make more sense to covert to the Celsius scale, many people are set in their ways.
"I don't see myself changing any time soon," said Anderson.Report a Typo
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