Barack Obama and the metric system - think he'll be interested in promoting it during his presidency?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Countries by date of metrication.

As far as I know Barack Obama has never spoken about his position on implementing the metric system in daily life, but a lot of people are hopeful that he will. Here's a thread on about it from over a month ago, and a group of metric system advocates from The idea is that since Obama isn't devoted to any particular ideology (he has political leanings but doesn't overly cling to terms like left/right/progressive/conservative/etc.) that he'll be willing to listen to practical arguments about the benefit of finally switching over to metric, compared to the administration of the past eight years which really wasn't interested in anything outside of its own view of the world.

However, Obama has shown himself to be a person as interested in minutiae as grand and lofty goals, like that silly furor in August about his remarks on tire pressure. In August during the campaign he mentioned that simply maintaining correct tire pressure would save the equivalent amount of oil that offshore drilling is expected to produce, which was a factual statement, but caused all the fuss at the time as opponents seized on the comments in an attempt to make it look like this was his entire strategy on energy independence. The attacks, of course, didn't have any effect.

That means that advocates of the metric system should do their best in the near future to reference studies on the benefits of the system, and if possible to carry out new studies as well in order to get some press attention on the issue. At the moment the metric system is so unentrenched in people's minds that you can even see letters to the editor like the following where some not only do not know the metric system, but don't even know the reason for its existence:

Q. Why does just about everything I buy have a metric measurement on it?

A. Because the United States is supposed to be moving towards metrification and is the only industrialized country that hasn't embraced metric measurements.

A simple enough explanation, and that's really the gist of it. Maybe metric advocates should keep this answer on hand for whenever the subject comes up on a forum or board somewhere.

What's that you say, you prefer traditional measurements and the culture and tradition that comes along with them? Okay, so do I. Traditional measurement advocates: I have a house to sell you with an area of 30 pyeong. Without using Google to check, is that bigger or smaller than the current place you're living in? After all, a pyeong is a nice rock-solid traditional measurement with tons of culture and tradition as well. Let's all use the pyeong to measure our houses.


Anonymous said...

Apart from missing the metric system, Obama missed the language problem as well. Despite

Can I therefore suggest

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