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