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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

Max du Preez on South Africa’s leadership vacuum
2011-08-29

 

Present at the CR Swart Memorial Lecture was, from the left: Prof. Hussein Solomon, senior Professor in our Department of Political Science; Prof. Theo Neethling, Head of our Department of Political Science; Max du Preez and Prof. Lucius Botes,Dean of our Faculty of Humanities.
Photo: Stephen Collett

“Much has been going wrong in South Africa in the last few years and it’s all due to a lack of strong, visionary leadership. South Africans deserve better and should demand more integrity, courage and vision from the present political leadership,” veteran journalist and author Max du Preez told the audience at a packed Wynand Mouton Theatre at our university, on 25 August 2011.

Delivering this year’s CR Swart Memorial Lecture on the topic “Of Jacob, Julius, Jimmy and the Dancing Monkey”, Du Preez told the audience to look with much more critical eyes at the political leadership and decide who is doing the obvious, following his or her basest instincts or simply trying to play to the gallery. “Why look at a man like Julius Malema and let him upset us, why listen to Floyd Shivambu with his crude manners and let them define us?” Du Preez asked the more than 300 people attending the memorial lecture. The CR Swart Memorial Lecture, the 41st hosted by the UFS, attracted one of the largest crowds ever for a public lecture, with some people sitting on the steps inside the auditorium of the Wynand theatre.
 
Telling the story of African philospher Morena Mohlomi, who acted as a teacher to Basuto king Moshoeshoe, Du Preez told the audience that the country needs counter-intuitive leadership like the two leaders had demonstrated. Calling Mohlomi southern Africa’s first Pan Africanist, Du Preez said the extroadinary thing about Morena Mohlomi and his student was their gift of counter-intuitive leadership, leadership that was daring and visionary, leadership that did not simply do the obvious. Pointing out other visionary leaders like Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, Beyers Naude and Van Zyl Slabbert, Du Preez urged the audience to question “the quality of leadership of Cosatu, the Democratic Teachers Union that is messing up our education, the Communist Party, the Democratic Alliance, the Freedom Front Plus and Solidarity. If they don’t live up to our expectations, why do we still tolerate them?” Du Preez asked.
 
Du Preez also commended Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, for his counter-intuitive leadership regarding the Reitz Residence incident and said Prof. Jansen’s solution, as controversial as it was, brought a much better outcome.
 
Please find attached the full speech of Max Du Preez.

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