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Eddie Mair | 07:30 UK time, Friday, 6 April 2007

The serious place for serious conversation about whatever you want. It can get heated in here so please, wear something light.

Comments

  1. At 12:43 PM on 06 Apr 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    Anyone want to talk about sexual politics? Only I noticed fellow froggers having a banter about it elsewhere and deciding it was too serious for that thread...

  2. At 01:21 PM on 06 Apr 2007, Adrian Denning wrote:


    Hi Eddie

    Great programme. I was listening to the latest on Climate Change and feeling threatened by the scientific community again.

    I seem to recall from my school chemistry days that we humans breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. Since the number of us has doubled since 1960 (3 billion to 6 billion plus) does this not mean that we are breathing out twice the amount of co2?

    So perhaps the answer to cutting emissions is to have a human cull. Maybe the politicians should take a lead and start with themselves!

    Seriously though, I'd love to know if this thought has any merit (the breathing bit I mean, not the cull).

    Adrian Denning

  3. At 05:42 PM on 06 Apr 2007, Toby wrote:

    Adrian,

    It is a factor which is often considered, but not with respect to humans - one of the largest known producers of greenhouse gases, noticeably, carbon dioxide and specifically methane, is livestock. This is often quoted as representing a very high proportion of annual emissions into the atmosphere (tens of percent) and, when coupled with examples such as in the Amazon rainforest where the current plantlife is cut down to make room for pastures, there is a theoretical "double negative".

    As said though - the number of livestock has swolen more significantly in recent years (despite my tender years I have been informed that the amount of meat eaten by the average family has significantly increased over the past half decade, hence acts as a good proxy for the degree of population expansion).
    Also, the nature of bovine digestion (rather than respiration which is your quoted example) produces a great deal of these greenhouse gases than would be anticipated from a human individual (even when the volume of food consumed is equalised, if i recall correctly)

    Hope that helps :)

  4. At 06:28 PM on 06 Apr 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Hi Appy. Sexual politics. Yes. You begin ....

  5. At 06:30 PM on 06 Apr 2007, Gillian wrote:

    Re Alan Johnston - Sorry to go off at another tangent but I just read in my local paper that the British Consul General Richard Makepeace has had a meeting with Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh. The Prime Minister was briefing Mr Makepeace Palestine's efforts to secure Alan's release. This was the first face-to-face meeting between an EU Diplomat and a Hamas official. After the meeting, Mr Makepeace spoke in Arabic, expressing his hope that there will soon be progress in this case.
    Sorry if this is old news for some of you, but I haven't heard this before, and thought there may be others in the same position.

  6. At 11:45 PM on 06 Apr 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    Thanks Gillian -- I hadn't heard that.

  7. At 08:30 AM on 07 Apr 2007, Gossipmistress wrote:

    Gillian (5) I heard on the radio on my way to work that there's to be a demonstration demanding his release today? Let's hope there is some positive news soon

  8. At 03:51 PM on 08 Apr 2007, Fifi wrote:

    Appy, I'm happy to talk about sexual politics. I'm slightly prone to them, being happily-unmarried to my S.O. for 20+ years ... and having friends who are men.

    Oh, and I had to negotiate all that business of a blind date with a fellow frogger a few months back ---!

    Fifi

  9. At 09:37 AM on 09 Apr 2007, Humph wrote:

    Adrian (2) I am not too sure how much you remember from your school chemistry lessons. Most of what you breathe in you also breathe out. Air is mainly composed of nitrogen; just under 80%. There is about 15% oxygen, 5% carbon dioxide with a small amount of water vapour and some trace gases (yippee – I have a job). The air that you breathe out when at rest has about 12% oxygen, which is why mouth-to-mouth resuscitation works, and about 7% carbon dioxide, which is why holding a paper bag over the mouth and nose of someone who is hyperventilating works. The carbon dioxide to oxygen ratio increases with increasing activity.

    When at rest a person with normal lung capacity of a couple of litres will breathe around 12 times a minute. Compared to the air around us, that change of concentration in carbon dioxide is very quickly reduced to “typical” values and is easily taken up by local vegetation in the process of photosynthesis. Although a doubling of the population does obviously cause more carbon dioxide to be exhaled the change is quite small on a global level and there is no reason to think that this will cause an increase in the green-house effect.

    You said that you wanted a comment on the breathing bit, not the cull. But let’s have a brief look at the effects of a cull; I particular what would you do with all the bodies? Cremation will lead to the release of a large amount of carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gases as well, and at such a rate that the local flora would not be able to mop up the carbon dioxide the way it can with breathing. Sub-terranian burial will cut off the oxygen supply of anything decomposing the body and so that decomposition will be done anaerobically producing methane rather than carbon dioxide. Methane is twenty times as strong as carbon dioxide in its greenhouse gas effects and is not taken up by natural processes at ground level although it can react with free radicals caused by photolysis of the atmosphere. Freezing bodies to prevent decomposition will cost energy to actually produce and maintain the temperatures required. The point is that people, like all living things, are store-houses of carbon. Whilst we are around, the carbon that we are made of is kept out of the atmosphere and is not leading to global warming. I hope that helps.

    H.

  10. At 08:08 AM on 10 Apr 2007, Humph wrote:

    The following is something that I posted on this thread yesterday lunch-time. Mention of me having posted an entry appeared in the recent comments box and so I assumed that it had been accepted and was just going through the normal bloggage. I never saw it here but if it did appear and then was removed following a complaint, then I appologise.

    Adrian (2) I am not too sure how much you remember from your school chemistry lessons. Most of what you breathe in you also breathe out. Air is mainly composed of nitrogen; just under 80%. There is about 15% oxygen, 5% carbon dioxide with a small amount of water vapour and some trace gases (yippee – I have a job). The air that you breathe out when at rest has about 12% oxygen, which is why mouth-to-mouth resuscitation works, and about 7% carbon dioxide, which is why holding a paper bag over the mouth and nose of someone who is hyperventilating works. The carbon dioxide to oxygen ratio increases with increasing activity.

    When at rest a person with normal lung capacity of a couple of litres will breathe around 12 times a minute. Compared to the air around us, that change of concentration in carbon dioxide is very quickly reduced to “typical” values and is easily taken up by local vegetation in the process of photosynthesis. Although a doubling of the population does obviously cause more carbon dioxide to be exhaled the change is quite small on a global level and there is no reason to think that this will cause an increase in the green-house effect.

    You said that you wanted a comment on the breathing bit, not the cull. But let’s have a brief look at the effects of a cull; I particular what would you do with all the bodies? Cremation will lead to the release of a large amount of carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gases as well, and at such a rate that the local flora would not be able to mop up the carbon dioxide the way it can with breathing. Sub-terranian burial will cut off the oxygen supply of anything decomposing the body and so that decomposition will be done anaerobically producing methane rather than carbon dioxide. Methane is twenty times as strong as carbon dioxide in its greenhouse gas effects and is not taken up by natural processes at ground level although it can react with free radicals caused by photolysis of the atmosphere. Freezing bodies to prevent decomposition will cost energy to actually produce and maintain the temperatures required. The point is that people, like all living things, are store-houses of carbon. Whilst we are around, the carbon that we are made of is kept out of the atmosphere and is not leading to global warming. I hope that helps.

    H.

  11. At 04:46 PM on 10 Apr 2007, Fifi wrote:

    See, moderators?

    If you'd just post the darn treatises the FIRST time, we wouldn't have to repeat ourselves at such length!

    Humph, please tell me you copy + pasted all that. Otherwise I may have to give you a hand massage to stave off RSI....

    Fifi

  12. At 06:18 PM on 10 Apr 2007, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Re: Natalie Evans and the frozen embryo.

    I *really* don't understand this judgment. What does it have to do with the bloke whether the embryos are used? As far as I know, Ms Evans isn't asking him to help support the potential child. In theory, he wouldn't ever have to meet the child, so what's the difference if a bit of his discarded genetic material is used?

    Does he maybe want his sperm back?

    I'm sorry, but to me his decision to refuse use of the embryos seems petty and the legal judgement supporting that is bewildering.

  13. At 07:15 PM on 10 Apr 2007, Humph wrote:

    Fifi (11) yes cut and paste. Actually it took a number of visits for me to work out what it was that I wanted to say. I tend to go on and on when it comes to atmospheric chemistry. That offering was about 20% of my offering at its zenith.

    Now, about that massage . . . oh! I guess that it is too late, now :-(.

    H.

  14. At 07:52 PM on 10 Apr 2007, Humph wrote:

    The thing is SSC (12), as I understand it, is that things have changed. There is a difference from making plans to bring up a child within a relationship and just acting as a sperm donor. A child born under the latter circumstances now has additional rights about finding out about their parantage. In that case, should the sperm donor be allowed access to the child - ignoring any possible disruption to the family? Should we worry about the formation of another bunch of nutters called something like "Sperm-donors for Justice"?

    Ms Evans has graciously said that she does not wish to claim any support for the bringing up of the child. Again circumstances can change. They have in the past when plans were being made to bring up a child together. Why should we assume that they will not change again? She has now taken this case to a number of different courts and all have found against her. As Ko-Ko,in the Mikado, exclaims after consulting his solicitor, the Attorney General, the Lord-Chief Justice, the Master of the Rolls, the Judge Ordinary and the Lord Chancellor (all of them Pooh-Ba):

    "They're all of the same opinion. Never knew such unanimity on a point of law in my life!"*

    What if the shoe was on the other foot and the "father" wanted to use one of the frozen embryos to obtain a child; either with a new partner or using a surragate? Would the "mother" allow that to happen? Would she be expected to? Personally, and I am
    guessing here, I doubt it. I am not talking about equality here, rather equal treatment. I think that all of the courts have got it right.

    H.

    *In reading through, I reaslise that quoting from a comic opera could be seen as frivolous. The point that I was hoping to make there was that normally when appeals go "up the chain" you usually get at least one court that agrees with the other side. In this case none have. It is in my background that this point reminded me of a bit of G&S. If I have upset anyone by leaving the point in, then I apologise.

    H.

  15. At 01:36 PM on 11 Apr 2007, Jack Jackson wrote:

    To PM,

    I was in favour of getting the Iran hostages out by diplomatic means, but I cannot help feeling queasy at the way it was done. Second-guessing others in a tight situation may be unfair, but was it really necessary to have all the hostages waving to the cameras like pools winners?

    Was it necessary to be quite so gushing to their captors? When they were presented with their ridiculous goody bags by the Iranians, why didn't they just leave them on the plane instead of opening them excitedly in front of the TV cameras like toddlers returning from a birthday party?

    There were two exceptions. A couple of Royal Marines remained stony-faced throughout. They had to go along with the Iranian pantomime, but they made clear what they really thought from their demeanour. The imprisonment of the only woman, Faye Turney, I think raises again the question of women in frontline combat.

    The Israelis placed women soldiers on the frontline years ago, but quickly abandoned the idea. I remember this being discussed with an Israeli general at the time and he said the main reason was that in combat soldiers would stop to help wounded comrades instead of continuing with an assault. In Faye Turney's case, is it not particularly crazy that her husband, also in the Navy, had to be given leave to look after their child while Faye was swanning around off Iraq?

    All in all, it has been an inglorious episode. I hope it is never repeated

  16. At 02:09 PM on 11 Apr 2007, Member of the Public wrote:

    To PM Eddie,

    While there should be every sympathy for a woman who has been told that her last chance of having a genetically-related child has gone, there should be no doubting the wisdom of the Grand Chamber of the European Court which has led to this unhappy position. Natallie Evans's personal situation motivated her to pursue her case through every court that would listen to her argument. Her tenacity is to be admired, but the fact that each court ruled against her tells its own story.

    If she had not required treatment for cancer, Ms Evans may well have conceived naturally and given birth to a child before the relationship with her partner broke down. However, if either the domestic or the European courts had endorsed a position where a child could be brought into the world using medical intervention, against the express wishes of the father, I think such a decision would have set a worrying precedent regarding the fundamental principle of consent.

    The scientific advances made in the field of fertility treatment have dramatically improved the chances of many people to become parents who previously would have been denied such an opportunity. Those advances have often posed difficult moral and ethical questions of which this is only the latest. As the boundaries are pushed further, it's my view that more such questions will surely follow.

    In considering those questions, I think the relevant medical authorities and, ultimately, the courts, must continue to consider the welfare of any child resulting from fertility treatment as the primary factor in any decision they make, however painful that may be for the potential parents involved.

    Just because science makes something possible does not always make it right to do it. The legal position adopted by the Grand Chamber of the European Court, in my view endorses this approach.

  17. At 06:37 PM on 11 Apr 2007, Jacques wrote:

    Re: Natalie Evans and the frozen embryo.

    I seem to remember the expression:-

    'Hard cases make bad laws'.

  18. At 04:31 PM on 12 Apr 2007, nikki noodle wrote:

    SSC (12)

    I can understand your point of view. Hypothetically, lets imagine she won, and went ahead.

    Forty years later, the daughter/son may well decide to use her/his right to know who their father was.

    Or imagine if the daughter/son had a 1 in a million genetic requirement that only close families could help with.

    Then what ?!

    Families are not optional, a bit like taxes.

    nikki noodle

  19. At 05:01 PM on 12 Apr 2007, Fifi wrote:

    I worry about people who are obsessed with their 'right' to have a child.

    I get angry about all the children who don't get adopted, because most people who are desperate to adopt will only accept a baby, not an older child.

    And Humph ... send your aching hand over here and I'll give it a lovely massage.

    Fifi

  20. At 06:12 PM on 12 Apr 2007, NostradamusZen wrote:

    Regarding the 'cull' hypothesis, I seem to remember about a year ago there was some research that suggested that the massive increase in female hormones finding their way into our water supply was causing a significant decrease in sperm counts. Perhaps the BBC could sponsor another round of 'end-of-civilisation-as-we-know-it' programmes around the surmise that we might reach a 'tipping point' whereby a generation of she-males is unable to sire the next. Then we'd be utterly reliant on in-vitro fertilisation from the last generations sperm banks, and the scientists could come to the rescue by developing a strain of human that breathes out more oxygen than they breathe in. At least with a 'feminised' male population, we'd be less likely to result to the traditional form of cull - the good old-fashioned world war.

    Just my tuppence worth - Mark

  21. At 06:15 PM on 12 Apr 2007, NostradamusZen wrote:

    And just a small comment on the structure of this forum - I'm not convinced that the 'blog' style is going to work, long-term. If we could have a link that says 'comment about this comment' as well as the 'complain' link, it would be much easier to follow conversations. Much as I dislike the presentation of many of the discussion group / bulletin board style sites, they do make it easier to follow particular threads.

    Thanks, Mark

  22. At 08:00 PM on 12 Apr 2007, Adrian Denning wrote:

    Thanks Humph and Mark. Sounds like a cull is not such a good idea, so the politicians are safe for the time being. Unless hot air is especially harmful to warming?

    Adrian

  23. At 08:35 PM on 12 Apr 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Re: Mark (21)

    Just to throw in a little comment, I think that may loose the 'organic' style that this blog has developed.

    However when a multitude of threads get going I know it can become confusing.

  24. At 11:45 PM on 12 Apr 2007, Gossipmistress wrote:

    Re the 'Cull' idea (interesting & informative essay Humph!) - I do wonder sometimes why we seem so keen in encouraging people to have more children and that you hear reports about countries being worried by falling birthrates.

    Presumably this is for economic purposes? But even though the planet is clearly becoming overcrowded, it seems to be a huge 'no no' to encourage people not to have more children. Why?!

    Also Mark (21) I agree with Jonnie - although this format appears can be confusing at times, I much prefer it to other message boards where replies are threaded after one comment. That way I can reply (as here!) to 2 at once!

  25. At 12:07 AM on 13 Apr 2007, Izzy T'Me wrote:

    Jonnie (23), I agree. It's taken me ages (but I didn't feel welcomed in any others) to get used to this blog. I have looked at others and found it quite time consuming to navigate my way around them. I might have got involved in the Archers "thing" but I enjoy the way this one works much more than other styles.

    Yup, it works for me!

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