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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

Graduates encouraged to emulate the greats
2016-07-06

Description: z 2016 Winter grads Tags: z 2016 Winter grads

The University of the Free State Winter Graduation ceremonies
took place on 29 and 30 June 2016 on the Bloemfontein Campus.

Photo: Johan Roux

Trevor Manuel and Max du Preez among the recipients of honorary doctorates at UFS graduation 

Take up the challenge, make things happen, and emulate the greats. This was the overwhelming theme of messages from speakers to graduates at the Winter Graduation ceremonies of the University of the Free State (UFS).

According to Prof Joel Samoff, Professor in Africa Studies at Stanford University (USA), the graduands are the “new generation of analysts, researchers, and practitioners”, and should “assume the responsibility for keeping your senior colleagues on a productive path.” Prof Samoff, who received an honorary doctorate from the UFS on 30 June 2016, was the guest speaker at the afternoon graduation ceremony on 29 June 2016.

The UFS awarded a total of 482 Master’s and doctoral degrees on 30 June 2016 – 53 doctorates and 429 Master’s degrees – in the Callie Human Centre on the Bloemfontein Campus. On 29 June 2016, diplomas were awarded in the School of Financial Planning Law, as well as certificates and diplomas in education on the South Campus.

“You are smarter
than you think.
Smarter than other
people think you
are, and smarter
than the country
thinks you are.”


Rise above South African standards


According to Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, South Africans have become use to a low standard of human decency, entertainment, and academics. He encouraged the graduates to rise above it.

“You are smarter than you think. Smarter than other people think you are, and smarter than the country thinks you are.”

Make impact like honorary doctorates


Dr Khotso Mokhele, UFS Chancellor, asked the recipients of honorary doctorates, Prof Samoff, Max du Preez, Trevor Manuel and Dr Reuel Jethro Khoza, and of the two Chancellor’s medals, Antony Osler and Marguerite van der Merwe (née Osler), to face the graduates at the morning ceremony on 30 June 2016. “I challenge you to look at them and to emulate them,” he said. “May it transform you to be like them in 10, 15 or 20 years.”

Dr Mokhele thanks Prof Jansen as leader


Dr Mokhele made special mention of Prof Jansen, who will step down as Vice-Chancellor and Rector on 31 August 2016, as these were his last UFS graduations. He thanked Prof Jansen for his major contribution to transformation at the UFS. “You are not only a Vice-Chancellor, but also a project leader,” Dr Mokhele said.

 

Click here to see a photo gallery of the graduations.

Click here to see a list of distinctions and special awards.

 

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