Source: The Australian, Thursday September 14, 1995, p. 3


Concern for environment declines

By environment writer NATASHA BITA 
 
   TWO out of three Australians 
worry about the environment but 
only half conserve water or 
energy at home, official 
statistics show. 
 
   Eighteen per cent of Aust- 
ralians think the environment is 
more important than the 
economy, 71 per cent rank 
environmental protection and 
economic growth equally, and 7 
per cent regard the economy as 
more important. 
 
   Younger people are more likely 
to regard the environment as 
more important than the 
economy. 
 
   The Australian Bureau of 
Statistics report, based on a 
survey of 13,400 people in June 
last year, indicates that concern 
for the environment is slipping. 
It records that 69 per cent of 
Australians were concerned about 
at least one specific 
environmental problem in 1994, 
compared with 75 per cent in 
1992. 
 
   Air pollution is the major 
environmental concern, 
nominated by 34 per cent of 
respondents in the latest survey. 
 
   Other major issues are ocean 
pollution (26.7 per cent), the 
destruction of trees and 
ecosystems (25.6 per cent) and 
freshwater pollution (25.5 per 
cent). 
 
   But Australians are less 
concerned about the ozone layer, 
toxic chemical waste and the 
greenhouse effect now than they 
were in 1992. 
 
   Nuclear weapons tests, the use 
of uranium and sand mining were 
ranked as the three issues of least 
concern in 1994- 12 months 
before France declared it would 
resume nuclear tests in the South 
Pacific. 
 
   Despite the high level of 
concern about environmental 
problems, the survey reveals that 
only half of all households 
conserve water and energy. 
 
   Fifty-four per cent of house- 
holds do not take any steps to 
conserve water. The most 
common ways of saving water are 
by installing dual flush toilets 
and water-efficient shower heads, 
and turning off or repairing 
leaking taps. Sixteen per cent of 
householders take shorter 
showers to save water. 
 
   However, 84 per cent of gar- 
deners take measures to save 
water, mainly by watering during 
cooler parts of the day. 
 
   Thirty-eight per cent of gar- 
deners have planted native 
shrubs and trees, which require 
less watering than exotic 
species. 
 
   The survey shows that 48 per 
cent of Australian dwellings have 
no form of insulation, due 
mainly to the cost of installing 
it. 
 
   Nearly 5 per cent of 
households use solar hot water 
systems, but 62 per cent of 
dwellings still use electric 
systems. 
 
   One in five households uses 
two refrigerators, one in four 
owns a dishwasher and half have 
installed clothes dryers. 
 
   The Australian Institution of 
Engineers yesterday called on 
householders to stop blaming 
industry for environmental 
problems. 
 
   "We run our taps and burn our 
lights with gay abandon, 
ignorant of the real impact of 
these actions and the real costs 
of basic services such as power 
and water," the institution's 
Queensland president, Mr Mike 
Marley, said yesterday. 
 
   "Some of the same people in 
the community who campaign 
vigorously against proposed new 
power stations turn a blind eye to 
energy wastage in their own 
homes."


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