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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

Honouring Stanley Trapido – one of the most influential historians South Africa has produced
2014-08-14

 

Prof Charles van Onselen
Photo: Supplied

The International Studies Group and the History Department at the UFS hosted a seminar on Stanley Trapido by Prof Charles van Onselen on Monday 11 August 2014.

The seminar honoured the life and work of Trapido, one of the most important and influential historians South Africa has ever produced.

Trapido is probably best known for his work on the causes and consequences of the South African War of 1899–1902. It was to this broad time period that Prof Van Onselen spoke in his paper ‘The Political Economy of the South African Republic, 1881–1895’.

Prof Van Onselen’s lecture provided a major reinterpretation of the origins and causes of the Jameson Raid while emphasising that Paul Kruger’s ZAR was a state beset by crime and corruption. It was particularly fitting that Prof Van Onselen gave the inaugural seminar paper, since Trapido supervised his Oxford doctoral thesis.

The International Studies Group and the History Department were extremely honoured by Trapido’s widow, the Booker Prize nominated author Barbara, attending the seminar. They wish to thank her for donating her husband’s academic library to the UFS.

Following the Sharpeville massacre of 1960, the Trapido-couple emigrated to England. While there, Trapido began to shape what is now known as the ‘revisionist’ school of South African historiography. He argued the importance of analysing capital and class formation, which he maintained informed the racial ideologies that culminated in apartheid.

Prof Van Onselen’s inaugural seminar presentation will be followed later this term by papers from David Moore, Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni and Giacomo Macola.

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