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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

Conference on religion and reconciliation
2011-07-25

 

At the conference were, from the left, front: Dr Frank Chikane, President of AFM International; Dr Mathole Motshekga, Chief Whip of the ANC; at the back: Rev. Maniraj Sukdaven, Head of our Department of Religion Studies; and Dr Alan Boesak, connected to our International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice, as well as a minister in the United Reformed Church.

In recent times, reconciliation has mainly been politically driven, Dr Alan Boesak stated during a conference on religion and reconciliation. He was one of a number of prominent academic leaders from various religions who participated in the conference: Exploring religious understanding for reconciliation.The conference was presented by our Faculty of Theology and the International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice at our university this week.

According to Dr Boesak, a theologian connected to our International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice, reconciliation means much more than simply former enemies no longer attacking or killing one another; they also have co-exist with a positive attitude towards one another.
 
Speakers from, amongst others, the Christian, Jewish, Baha’i, Rastafarian, Islam and Buddhist religious communities shared their views on reconciliation with one another.Most of these speakers referred to the special value of humankind in each religion. A person’s life has a supernatural dimension, which ought to play a major role in the way in which people treat one another.
 
Dr Frank Chikane, President of AFM International, as well as a speaker at the event, stated that the religious community should and had to be more active in discussions about reconciliation.“If religious leaders do not talk about current issues, all kinds of voices with distorted perspectives will be heard instead,” Dr Chikane added.
 
Reconciliation can only truly take place if the contribution of each group in society is taken seriously. Apart from the high premium placed on rights in society, duties that have to be fulfilled should also be emphasised. Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana from the Ethiopian Episcopal Church is of the opinion that this sense of duty should be established in people’s frame of mind. Adv. Antony Osler pointed out from a Buddhist perspective how important it was to deal with reconciliation by living up to its principles.
 
Rev. Maniraj Sukdaven, Head of our Department of Religion Studies, is very satisfied with the high quality of the contributions during the conference.

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