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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

Faculty of Theology hosts annual meeting of Society for Practical Theology
2015-01-30

From the left are: Prof Yolanda Dreyer (Chairperson of SPTSA, University of Pretoria), Prof Johann Rossouw (UFS), Prof Hussein Solomon (UFS) and Prof Johan Cilliers (Stellenbosch University).
Photo: Michelle Nothling

The privilege of hosting the annual meeting of the Society for Practical Theology in South Africa (SPTSA) fell to the University of the Free State (UFS) this year. Delegates from across the country recently convened on the Bloemfontein Campus to attend the event from 21 – 23 January 2015.

The three-day congress saw several high-profile keynote speakers discussing the topic of ‘Power of religion and religions of power’.

Dr Johann Rossouw from the UFS Department of Philosophy presented a paper on ‘Power, the state and the church in South Africa’. Dr Rossouw regards the cooperation between theologians and philosophers as integral to help us understand the time we live in. Twenty years since the dawn of South Africa’s democracy, “the gap between the country we were promised and the country we received is bigger than ever,” Dr Rossouw said. “A South-African Church … cannot but make her voice heard regarding this gap.”

Expert on conflict resolution and fundamentalism, Prof Hussein Solomon from the UFS Department of Political Studies and Governance scrutinised the compatibility of Islam with democracy. He warned, though, against “the labelling of a conflict as religious on the mere basis of its religious overtones.” Prof Solomon’s paper, ‘Political Islam: trends, trajectory and future prospects,’ not only advocated tolerance and political pluralism, but also pointed to the fact that it is “in the common good of all humanity” to avert a “Clash of Civilizations”.

‘God in granite?’ – Prof Johan Cilliers’ paper – investigated the phenomenon of the monumentalization of religion. Prof Cilliers from Stellenbosch University explained that monuments often have “spiritual character and iconic value, in the sense that it offers a space for the formation or discovery of meaning.” In his presentation he showed, though, that monuments – even those connected to religious motifs – “seldom escape the lure of power”.

The event was organised by the University of the Free State’s Faculty of Theology, Department of Practical Theology.

  

For more information or enquiries contact news@ufs.ac.za .

 

 

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