Current Affairs Discussion

 All information from previous years can now be found in the archive, click here.

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Members of the Current Affairs Discussion Group have agreed to meet monthly on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 2.00pm. We meet at the Bolsover library, which has easy access for handicapped people.
And please see short reports of previous debates, below, which will give you a feeling of what we discuss. We never vote or reach any conclusions, but the discussions give us plenty of food for thought. Topics may change as current affairs highlight new issues of greater interest.


The topic for November is ‘Do public protests, (either physical or online) achieve their objectives? Considering the global Extinction Rebellion and Hong Kong protests, for example.’
At the December Christmas meeting we will each say what we would choose to change in order to improve society for future generations, had we the opportunity.
The topic for January 2020 is ‘Does science fiction eventually become a reality?’

We will all have had different experiences to relate – and the more differences the better!  All welcome, including non-members, for a taster. So please join us – we have a very relaxed, yet stimulating time, chewing the fat. You would be very welcome – just turn up – and tell us what you would like to debate too.

                                                 Comments from members

October 10th 2019:
Gary introduced the topic and has provided a quick update about our discussion today entitled “Transport Policy”.
We had a lively discussion about transport (road, rail, air, sea) and how it is managed in the UK.  It is a huge topic which has influence on so many aspects of our daily lives. We ranged from the canals to HS2 to Heathrow.  We contrasted our experiences travelling abroad and at home. We considered transport pollution and the commitments national and local governments have to improving our environment.
As Transport is such an interesting and divergent subject that evolves all the time, we have decided to revisit the subject at a later date.

August 8th 2019: The August CADG meeting addressed the problems of climate change (CC) and the associated species extinction issue. There was a lot to consider – including why some people still do not accept it as a reality. Reasons include confusing weather with climate change, not understanding that there is no financial or career advantage for scientists to publish ‘fake research findings’, not being bothered about the loss of a tiny insect, to feeling it is a global problem and that an individual cannot make a difference. After considering such issues as how scientific knowledge develops by ‘standing on the shoulders of giants to see further (Einstein)’, and correcting results as more knowledge becomes available – and how the whole cycle of life depends on the activities of each species, however small and insignificant, so that the loss of a single insect can have an impact on the survival of other species – we then talked about what we as individuals could do.
Some ideas included eating less meat, buying fewer clothes, planting trees, cutting down on air and road travel, saving water, insulating our homes, checking the ‘air miles’ of purchases, signing petitions, rejecting the use of plastics – and other suggestions.
If you would like a fuller report on our stimulating discussion, please contact any of the CADG team and give your email address – and they can send a fuller report.

June 13th 2019: As usual, our debate on whether countries such as India should be spending money on space exploration, drifted into related topics such as the UK contributions to low and middle income countries/climate change. Ken gave us a lot of data to get us off the ground and – again as usual – we had no consensus and no vote, but we had a great conversation and learned a lot.

May 9th 2019 There was a full house today to discuss whether government spending on the arts was justified. Sheila gave us the statistics as to the amount and source of government financial support, which seemed surprisingly high. But we then also had information about the income received back from such funding – such as the increased spending on arts-based tourism – for example on transport, additional accommodation and food spending on top of standard entrance fees. Members also highlighted the huge benefits provided by introducing different aspects of music/acting/painting, for example, to children, sick people, drug dependency individuals, much of which was unquantifiable and only apparent in the future. A show of hands at the end of the discussion suggested that the group felt the spending was indeed justified, but was divided on whether the amount spent currently should be increased in view of the significant benefits to people and their lives, and in view of current funding cuts for schools, the NHS etc. We tried to imagine how dreary life would be without artistic endeavour and members highlighted much that was happening in their regions through local and charitable support. A local leaflet from Bolsover was shown to alert people about up-coming artistic events – and of course, the part played by the U3A was highlighted.

April 11th 2019
Twelve members came to the discussion today, which was about whether social media, and the Internet in general, were a blessing or a threat. The topic was ably introduced by Mike Taylor who presented us with examples of the pluses and minuses . We all had different experiences of using some of the media programs now online, from shopping, to keeping in touch with friends and families, to enabling business and science to progress . .  But some had experienced uninvited and upsetting photographs suddenly coming onto their computers. We agreed the bad things were not the fault of the technology, but how people used it.We discovered 11 of us had iphones and used emails, but few used Facebook – although they watched what their families posted sometimes – some used WhatsApp and iTunes, few used Instagram .  . . but we all felt the technology was here to stay. We all worried somewhat about over-use and addiction of youngsters. Some of us regretted the demise of paper and pen, and books – so we had a mixed response – as usual. But we all learned from listening to each other, which is what it is all about.

February 14th 2019

The meeting was well attended.  Sheila introduced the subject of Migration – its causes and consequences. Several other members had also done some research. It soon became clear that if we went back far enough in the records we are all descended from migrants. For thousands of years people had moved across the land in search of valuable goods, or fertile land, or to trade in spices or other expensive items.  The current difficulties with movement of people often stemmed from poverty, famine and war. People also migrate for economic reasons, perhaps to get a better job or the benefits of a particular country. After much discussion it was clear that no one had a solution to the situation although everyone hoped that the governments of the countries concerned could deal with the wars, famine & poverty that devastated their people.

Jauary 10th 2019

The CADG met on 10th January. Barbara welcomed new members to the group.  Julie introduced the topic of Robots & Drones and gave us details of her research on the history of the subject. A lively discussion followed, when people considered the good & bad of both new technologies. Whilst no firm consensus was reached it became clear that this was not a new situation as the introduction of the steam engine for public transport in the 19th century had caused a lot of consternation. There was no stopping the progress of technology , but it was hoped that some regulation could be enacted to restrict the worrying aspects of these machines.