I was visiting the Web site of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) a few weeks ago, and was disappointed to find that the weather conditions in Beijing — temperature and wind speed — were given only in degrees Fahrenheit and miles per hour, respectively. I sent a suggestion through BOCOG’s online form, but several weeks later, there has been no change. Today, I sent the following message by e-mail:
To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Subject: Weather Reporting for Olympics
Dear madam and / or sir:
A few weeks ago, I sent a message through the “suggestions” tool on BOCOG’s Web site, pointing out that Beijing’s temperature and wind speed, as given on (http ://en.beijing2008.cn/), are shown ONLY in degrees Fahrenheit and miles per hour. I asked that the information also be presented using degrees Celsius and kilometres per hour, in the interests of the many English speakers unfamiliar with Fahrenheit and miles. To date, I have seen no response to my message, and there have been no changes to the site. I am sending this message in the hopes that it might be more successful than a Web-based form.
As the United States is the only country left in the world that persists in using Fahrenheit as a temperature scale, the exclusive use of Fahrenheit and miles per hour is both confusing and annoying to those of us who have adopted the metric system. Consider:
English is the primary language in Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Belize, the British Indian Ocean Territory, the British Virgin Islands, Canada, the Cayman Islands, Dominica, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Grenada, Guernsey, Guyana, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Jamaica, Jersey, Montserrat, Nauru, New Zealand, the Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Singapore, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the United Kingdom.
None of these countries and territories uses the units you have chosen in any official capacity. Only the United States does so. To use only Fahrenheit and miles per hour on your site, therefore, is to implicitly suggest that all English speakers are Americans. While I take no issue with America as a country, and indeed count many Americans among my close friends, this is an affront to the national sensibilities of all non-American, English-speaking countries.
I hope that in the spirit of international co-operation and friendship, you will fix this issue on your site. We may have “One World, One Dream,” but not all English speakers use “One System of Measurement.”
Thank you for your time, and I wish you all the best in helping to make the Beijing Olympics a great success!
I am eager to hear back from them, and hope I can get the metric system up there before the Games start. 358 days left!
Edit: I’m aware that my statement that “none of these countries uses Fahrenheit and mph” is overstating the case somewhat… that’s only really true regarding Fahrenheit. I believe the point still stands.
Update: firstname.lastname@example.org has bounced my message back. Apparently, it doesn’t actually exist, despite being listed on BOCOG’s site.