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04 June 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Charl Devenish
Prof Cathryn Tonne
Air pollution not only costs lives, it costs money too. Pictured is Prof Cathryn Tonne presenting a guest lecture on air pollution at the Bloemfontein Campus.

Health effects associated with ambient air pollution (AAP) have been well documented. Subsequently, the relationship between pollution and financial outcomes have also become a focus for case studies globally. An Environmental Research journal article revealed that “low and middle-income countries are disproportionately affected by the global burden of adverse health effects caused by AAP”. 

A high price to pay

In 2012, high concentrations of air pollution caused 7.4% of all deaths, costing South Africa up to 6% of its Gross Domestic Product. According to the recent International Growth Centre study conducted by senior University of Cape Town researchers, this is a direct consequence of the country’s heavy dependence of fossil fuels, a source of health-damaging air pollution and greenhouse pollutants.

Stunted human and economic growth

These South African statistics are attested to by Prof Cathryn Tonne who recently presented a guest lecture on air pollution which was hosted by the University of the Free State (UFS) Business School.

“Air pollution can affect economic development through several pathways, and health is an important one. Air pollution is linked to shorter life expectancy, chronic disease, asthma exacerbation and many other health outcomes that result in absenteeism from work and school. These have large direct costs to the health system.” 

Prof Tonne says that air pollution exposure in children is linked to reduced cognitive development, with important impacts on human capital. As a result, children are not reaching their full potential in terms of neurodevelopment, which has an effect on their income prospects and the economy as a whole. 

Resolving a looming disaster

Technology may be employed to radically clean the air. Cities need to lead in the reduction of air pollution by promoting renewable energy, using active transport such as walking or cycling, and investing in infrastructure to make this safe and attractive. 

With researchers playing a major role in strengthening the case for aggressive air pollution control, the government needs to implement policies in order to control sources of air pollution. This global health and economic issue also requires individuals and communities to play their part to improve air quality.

News Archive

2010 World Cup: An opportunity for nation-building
2010-05-11

Pictured from the left, front are: Prof. Labuschagne and Prof. Cornelissen. Back: Prof. Kersting, Prof. Teuns Verschoor (Acting Senior Vice-Rector: UFS) and Dr Ralf Hermann (DAAD).
Photo: Mangaliso Radebe

“The 2010 FIFA World Cup creates a window of opportunity for nation-building in South Africa that could even surpass the opportunity created by the 1995 Rugby World Cup.”

This was according to Prof. Pieter Labuschagne from the University of South Africa, who was one of the three speakers during the lecture series on soccer that were recently presented by the Faculty of the Humanities at the University of the Free State (UFS), in conjunction with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), under the theme: Soccer and Nation Building.

Prof. Labuschagne delivered a paper on the topic, The 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa: Nation Building or White Apathy?, highlighting the critical issue of how sport in South Africa was still largely supported along racial lines.

“We are still enforcing the separateness of rugby as a sport for whites and soccer as a sport for blacks,” he said.

He said a high degree of animosity against soccer existed among whites because they felt rugby and cricket were being singled out by parliament as far as transformation was concerned. He said that could be the reason why a large number of South African whites still supported soccer teams from foreign countries instead of local Premier Soccer League teams.

“Bridging social context between different racial groups is still a major problem, even though patriotism is comparatively high in South Africa,” added Prof. Norbert Kersting from the University of Stellenbosch, who also presented a paper on World Cup 2010 and nation building from Germany to South Africa, drawing critical comparisons on issues of national pride and identity between the 2006 World Cup in Germany and the 2010 World Cup.

“Strong leadership is needed to utilize the opportunity provided by the 2010 World Cup to build national unity as former President Nelson Mandela did with the Rugby World Cup in 1995,” said Prof. Labuschagne.

Although acknowledging the power of sport as a unifying force, Prof. Scarlett Cornelissen, also from the University of Stellenbosch, said that, since 1995, the captivating power of sport had been used to achieve political aims and that the 2010 World Cup was no different.

Amongst the reasons she advanced for her argument were that the 2010 World Cup was meant to show the world that South Africa was a capable country; that the World Cup was meant to solidify South Africa’s “African Agenda” – the African Renaissance - and also to extend the idea of the Rainbow Nation; consolidate democracy; contribute to socio-economic development and legitimize the state.

“We should not place too much emphasis on the 2010 World Cup as a nation-building instrument,” she concluded.

She presented a paper on the topic Transforming the Nation? The political legacies of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The aim of the lecture series was to inspire public debate on the social and cultural dimensions of soccer.

DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst) is one of the world’s largest and most respected intermediary organisations in the field of international academic cooperation.
Media Release
Issued by: Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt@ufs.ac.za  
11 May 2010
 

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