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26 March 2018 Photo Pixabay
Back to the drawing board to save water
We’ve managed to damage nature’s ‘filter’ with air, ocean, and soil pollution, and by destroying wetlands.

Dr Cindé Greyling, a University of the Free State (UFS) DiMTEC (Disaster Management Training and Education Centre for Africa) alumni, studied drought mitigation with a strong focus on communicating important water-saving information. 

Can we run out of water?
Yes, and no, says Dr Greyling. “To our knowledge, water is not ‘leaking’ through our atmosphere. We have what we have, but that doesn’t mean we will have enough clean, fresh water forever. Nature has a magnificent way of purifying water through the water cycle. We, on the other hand, must use a lot of money and energy to purify water. Also, we’ve managed to damage nature’s ‘filter’ with air, ocean, and soil pollution, and by destroying wetlands. The other problem is a simple supply and demand scenario. More people will need more water, but not only that, population growth calls for industry development and increased food supplies – all of which require more water.”    

A war over water
Besides some Hollywood impressions, it is difficult to imagine a war over water, but it is possible. “Some experts are convinced that we are heading there, and others claim that such tensions already exist. Personally, I don’t favour these kinds of shock tactics (or truths) – social research has shown us that it rarely leads to behavioural changes. We can learn a lot from what was has been done in Cape Town. Although we all think people were bombarded with ‘Day-Zero’-scares, they were actually encouraged to adapt their behaviour with a communication campaign that hardly ever used the term ‘Day-Zero’. This approach mobilised citizens to reach record lows of water usage.” 

Adapt a new normal
Dr Greyling encourages the “new normal” set in motion by Capetonians. “Water consciousness is needed, even when the rain comes again. We’ve taken water for granted for too long. As consumers, we have the power to turn this situation around – drop for drop. Be aware about the amount of water you use, how you use it, and for what. Keep in mind that any wastage and pollution (of ‘dry’ things) also wastes and pollutes water. Generally, we need to behave better regarding consumption.”  

News Archive

It is not every day you get to build a heart
2014-09-17

According to the World Health Organisation, heart disease is the leading cause of death world wide. Heart transplantations substantially outperform any other available treatment and extend life by an average of 15 years, but the shortage of donor organs and organ rejection still remain a challenge.

Getting closer to the day where it will be possible to produce human organs by using human cells, researchers at the University of the Free State (UFS) announced that they have successfully decellularized a primate heart.

Decellularization is the process of taking an organ and stripping its cells, leaving behind a framework of binding tissue. The organ can then be repopulated (recellularized) with the patient's own cells - a process considered to move heart research closer to the day when a patient can become his own donor.

This process was discovered in 2008 by American cardiologist, Dr Doris Taylor of the University of Minnesota, who decellularized and recellularized a beating rat heart in a laboratory.

World wide researchers already used the process of decellularization on rat and pig hearts, but the research team of the UFS is the first to use this on a primate heart.

Complete media release.

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