Saturday, February 20, 2010

Environmental initiatives deliver death, destruction and disease

The Rudd government's incentive scheme for shonky insulation installers eager to dip into the pot of cash at the end of the subsidised home insulation rainbow has resulted in the deaths of four installers and quite a few ceiling fires. But such teething pains are to be expected when there's a huge pot to be dipped into and quite a few dippers who give higher priority to speed of cash acquisition over the quality of their work.

Now that the public outcry has grown too great to ignore – estimates are that 160,000 homes have inferior installations – Peter Garrett has suspended the scheme thus penalising reputable insulation installers as well as the fly-by-nighters. Garrett, however, refuses to reveal exactly when he received a risk assessment advising of the fire danger and the possibility of fraud.

But the insulation debacle could prove insignificant when compared to the disaster potential inherent in government subsidised water tanks, a scheme strongly supported by Garrett:

Mr Garrett said the National Rainwater and Greywater Initiative will have a major part to play in improving water efficiency and adapting to climate change.

“I encourage Kingsford Smith householders who don’t yet have a rainwater tank or greywater system to consider this rebate and help conserve our precious water resources.” Mr Garrett said.

Rainwater storage tanks are, of course, the ideal incubators for disease-carrying mosquitoes, which explains why they were years ago banned by many local governments. It's feared that now that the tanks are back in vogue, the mosquitoes and the diseases they carry will also return:

There is growing concern rainwater tanks are fuelling a mosquito problem, potentially helping to spread the mosquito-borne dengue virus around Australia.

Like solar and insulation, you could see a water tank as a worthy way of reducing the impact on the environment, and different levels of government in various states have offered various rebates for rainwater tanks.

Brisbane City Council and the Queensland Institute of Medical Research have finished a survey of three Brisbane suburbs, to see if there is a looming mosquito problem.

It found that one in two houses had a rainwater tank and 3 per cent had mosquitoes breeding in them.

It is estimated there might be 150,000 rainwater tanks in Brisbane now, which suggests a few thousand tanks breeding mosquitoes.

And with the Asian tiger mosquito getting a foothold on the mainland it looks like not only dengue fever but also chikungunya could end up being spread far and wide as the mosquitoes hopscotch from rainwater tank to rainwater tank.

The road to Hell...


Anonymous Dan Lewis said...

Sydney now has a desalination plant. I expect that now they can sell us water at grossly marked up prices, we will never see water restrictions again.

7:20 PM  

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