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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

Prof. Jonathan Jansen receives an honorary doctorate from Cleveland State University
2010-05-27

 
 Prof. Jonathan Jansen


The Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State, Prof. Jonathan Jansen, was recently awarded an honorary doctorate by the Cleveland State University in the United States of America (USA).

The degree, an Honorary Doctor of Higher Education Administration, was conferred on him at the graduation ceremony on 15 May 2010 in Cleveland.
“I am deeply honoured and humbled to receive this wonderful gift from one of the most distinguished public universities in the world,” Prof. Jansen said in his acceptance speech.

“I am especially excited to share this grand moment with you, the proud graduates of Cleveland State University,”

“Both you and I live in countries that have made significant progress in human relations. Yet the long shadows of racial, ethnic and religious divisions continue to haunt so many parts of the world – from Rwanda and Zimbabwe, to the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Whether it is Ventersdorp in South Africa or Arizona in the USA, our world needs leaders who build bridges, and who work against the logic of hatred, division and retribution.”

“For this to happen, we need counter-cultural leadership from a new generation of graduates. You see, it is easy for me to take sides, to stand by fellow black South Africans against the other side, to see the world only through my injury. But counter-cultural leadership in broken communities means to do what is unexpected. You see, this kind of leadership in a man like Nelson Mandela whom they sent to prison for 27 years and when he emerged insisted on reconciliation with those who had imprisoned him,” he told the graduates.

Prof. Jansen was honoured for his outstanding contribution towards the transformation of education, politics and diversity for the citizens and students of South Africa and the world.

Media Release
Issued by: Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt@ufs.ac.za  
27 May 2010
 

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