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Hot take: Celsius is a Dumb Way to Describe the Weather

The one universal truth about study abroad kids is that they don’t shut up about studying abroad until way too long after they get back. Yes, I studied abroad last semester. While I could bore you with an article about my cool new international friends or I could tell you all about how I “found myself” and had a “growth experience,” but I won’t. I do want to talk about something I became super passionate about while living in Europe: the Celsius system. I personally think it’s a really dumb way to describe the weather. While this might not seem like a hot take for an American, in the context of the rest of the world it’s an incredibly hot take, like 45 degrees Celsius hot. 

First, I would like to address that Celsius is probably a better system for scientific purposes. It makes sense that water would freeze at zero and boils at 100. I concede that point. Water freezing at 32 and boiling at 212 seems really arbitrary if you look at the numbers in Fahrenheit. People who use the Celsius love to point out that these numbers are kind of random and “hard to remember.” It’s two numbers, folks. Out of all the things we have to memorize in our lives, two numbers that both end in two won’t be the breaking point on your brain’s information storage. However, I digress because as I said, for the purposes of science, Celsius is better anyway. We don’t live in a vacuum, though, and while I suppose it often gets to the freezing point in many parts of the world, it never gets to the boiling point. Different factors like pressure can also affect when things freeze, meaning that zero is only a guess when it comes to weather. Why have a perfectly round number if it’s not even going to accurately predict how frozen the precipitation is???

Celsius is a dumb system for describing the weather because the intervals are too big. Weather fluctuates throughout the day, and if you want to say simply “it’s going to be in the 20s today,” that means NOTHING! At 20 degrees Celsius, you probably want to wear long pants and a light jacket. At 29 degrees Celsius (or 84 degrees Fahrenheit), if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to rip your skin off! Alternatively, with temperatures in Fahrenheit, the intervals are small enough so if you say “oh it’ll be in the 20s” you’ll know you need a nice big winter coat all day long. Alternatively, if you know it’ll be in the 60s, you should probably wear a light jacket but plan to maybe take it off if you’re moving around a lot. 

Additionally, while the zero to 100 scale is great if you’re doing experiments on water, it’s completely pointless out in everyday life. With Fahrenheit, zero falls at one extreme of temperatures humans actually experience on a daily basis and 100 lies at the other. It could actually conceivably be zero or 100 degrees Fahrenheit a few days a year here in the great state of New York. If the temperature is below zero or above 100, you know the weather is going to be really extreme. Even on any normal day, you can judge how cold or hot it will be by how close the temperature is to either zero or 100. 


The publication of this article will most certainly annoy my cool new international friends that I mentioned at the very beginning. I hope this article promotes some intercultural understanding and helps them realize why I never quite took to using their dumb temperature system.