Opinion: Let’s Stop Using Celsius


Americans stand apart from the rest of the world in many things, and it could be argued our practices are
often wrong. From using yards to insisting on the Electoral College, we can comfortably be accused of blindly accepting some traditions that would be better off left in the annals of history. One tradition we should not be accused of doing this for is using Fahrenheit over Celsius. Fahrenheit is a far better system for human purposes and is much more intuitive. In the vast majority of cases, Fahrenheit is a better system to use, and in the scientific cases where Fahrenheit is not helpful, it is almost always better to use Kelvin, not Celsius, instead.

The first reason to use Fahrenheit is that it provides a higher degree of gradation in the temperature ranges
humans care about. In Fahrenheit, 0° is very cold day and 100° is a very hot day. Not only do these easily map to a percent scale that humans can perceive well, (0% cold sounds pretty cold, 100% cold sounds pretty hot), but also this method of measurement allows someone to know quickly if a temperature is extreme by checking if it is outside of that range. Do you know what those temperatures map to in Celsius? 0°F is -17°C, and 100 is 37°C. As a scale to operate from for human purposes, this seems patently ridiculous. Furthermore, more than half of the scale of Celsius cannot be used for everyday life. The range from 50-100° in Celsius does not apply to temperatures commonly found on Earth, meaning that the only people who will use are scientists who deal with extreme temperatures.

If we’re talking about science, I will of course concede that Fahrenheit is not the better system; Kelvin is. In both physics and chemistry, whenever calculating temperature, you must convert from Celsius into Kelvin, proving Celsius is not the supreme temperature. The other SI units are also often used around the world because they all map easily to decimal conversion. Celsius, noticeably, doesn’t have this. There is no kiloCelsius, or at least not one that is used commonly. This is the primary reason in favor of the metric system, and without it, Celsius is just another arbitrary scale. Scientists stick with it because it was bundled with the metric system that is objectively better in almost all other ways, but really, this is no reason to continue using Celsius.

Both Celsius and Fahrenheit are arbitrary, so if we have to use an arbitrary scale, why not use the one that is easier to use for humans?