One of our readers has written to explain why he became interested in the campaign to complete Britain’s prolonged metric changeover.
Ronnie Cohen wrote recently to Metric Views:
“Out of all the bread-and-butter issues that top the political agenda, you may wonder why anyone would want to become involved in measurement matters. It hardly attracts any media interest and there is a general lack of interest in the subject among the general public. Issues such as health, education, immigration, Europe, transport and crime are frequently high on the political agenda and these are all issues that the public cares about deeply. Given the high priority of these and other issues in the eyes of the general public, why bother with measurement?
Measurement plays a central part in all our lives. When we go shopping for fruit and vegetables, look at nutrition information, buy furniture for our homes, see weather reports, measure our weight and height, do DIY work, use maps, drive our cars, cook our meals and measure electricity consumption, measurement is involved. These are just some regular daily activities that involve measurement and is not a comprehensive list.
The way we measure things matters. Measurement forms a fundamental basis for a good maths and science education and common measurement standards are essential for consumer protection.
We need a single, rational measurement system that everyone understands and uses for all purposes. This has been recognised since the days of the Magna Carta almost 800 years ago. All other major European countries abandoned Roman-style measurements long ago. Now the UK remains totally isolated in Europe in holding out for the old pre-metric measurements, an eccentricity that does us no favours. All major Commonwealth countries with the partial exception of Canada have abandoned imperial units and completed their transition to the metric system.
The recent problems with grossly disproportionate numbers of foreign lorries hitting British bridges shows that this is a serious issue. The prime cause of this awful statistic is the lack of understanding of imperial units among foreign drivers. This problem would not exist if the UK used metres on all its height and width restriction and warning signs like neighbouring countries.
If so many other countries can see and experience the benefits of full metrication, why can’t our political leaders? It is their responsibility to explain the benefits and advantages of the metric system to the general public and the rationale for completing the transition to the metric system and leaving imperial behind. The completion of metrication in the UK would make all our lives so much easier.”
Doubtless, many readers of Metric Views share Ronnie’s concerns. Some of you may have other reasons for wishing to see the end of the measurement muddle in the UK? Please write and let us know what you think.
In 2004, the UK Metric Association published “A very British mess”, which describes the current muddle, puts the case for completing the UK’s metric changeover, and proposes a plan. For details, please contact UKMA at email@example.com