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[Gofriends] Mistake in GO structure?

Amelia Ireland aji at
Mon Jan 17 07:39:11 PST 2011

On 17 Jan 2011, at 07:23, Wacek Kusnierczyk wrote:
> Breathing is inhaling and exhaling air (or whatever happens to be  
> around us) into the lungs.  In the lungs, oxygen diffuses into the  
> blood, and carbon dioxide diffuses from the blood.  The circulatory  
> system then takes the oxygen to other tissues, and brings a new  
> portion of carbon dioxide from the tissues, while the respiratory  
> system takes care of the waste and brings new oxygen for the next  
> cycle.
> Breathing is a respiratory system process.  Now,
> (a) If the whole process of removing co2 from the blood and  
> replacing it with o2 is called 'respiratory gaseous exchange' (or  
> 'respiration' for short, as your broad synonym acknowledges), then  
> breathing is a *part* of it; saying that breathing *is* respiratory  
> gaseous exchange is plainly wrong.
> (b) On the other hand, if the term 'gaseous exchange' (or 'gas  
> exchange', as I find it in my textbooks) is used as it seems in  
> medical terminology to name the process by which oxygen and carbon  
> dioxide diffuse through alveolar cells, base membranes, and  
> capillary endothelial cells in the lungs, then breathing is  
> *separate* from respiratory gas exchange, and both *are* respiratory  
> system processes and are *parts* of respiration.
> Either way, GO has it wrong.  Just look at the 'definition' (sneer  
> quotes intended) of 'respiratory gaseous exchange':
> "The process of gaseous exchange between an organism and its  
> environment. In plants, microorganisms, and many small animals, air  
> or water makes direct contact with the organism's cells or tissue  
> fluids, and the processes of diffusion supply the organism with  
> dioxygen (O2) and remove carbon dioxide (CO2). In larger animals the  
> efficiency of gaseous exchange is improved by specialized  
> respiratory organs, such as lungs and gills, which are ventilated by  
> breathing mechanisms."
> This 'definition' says, among others, two things:
> (a) gaseous exchange is gaseous exchange;
> (b) in larger animals (that is?) gaseous exchange is improved by  
> respiratory organs, which a re ventilated by breathing mechanisms.
> From (a), it seems that the author wasn't able to give a clear  
> explanation of what precisely is meant by 'gaseous exchange'.  From  
> (b), it seems that ventilation by breathing improves gas exchange,  
> from which it is very hard to me to draw the conclusion that  
> breathing *is* respiratory gas exchange.
> Should this matter in anyway, I remain convinced that the GO is  
> confused here.

Could you suggest a better structure and choice of term names, in that  
case? You seem to have a better grasp on gaseous exchange, breathing,  
and respiration than these terms have managed.

Amelia Ireland
GO Editorial Office ||
Preventing Euthanasia Through Rescue:

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