a NuMBER of islands in the Pacific, Fiji has a land area of 7,056 sq. mi. (18,274 sq. km.), with a population of 853,445 (2006 est., and a population density of 119 people per sq. mi. (46 people per sq. km.). Some 10 percent of the country's land is arable, with another
10 percent used for pasture, mainly of cattle and goats. About 65 percent of the land is forested, with a significant timber industry, leading to rapid deforestation. Fiji has a relatively low per capita rate of carbon dioxide emissions, at 1.1 metric tons per person in 1990, and remaining relatively stable, rising slowly to 1.3 metric tons in 2003. Although there is extensive use of electricity throughout the country, 82 percent come from hydropower and only 18 percent from fossil fuels. This has the result that most carbon dioxide emissions do not come from electricity generation (solid fuels account for only 7 percent of these emissions), 87 percent of emissions come from liquid fuels, mainly from automobiles and household generators, with 6 percent from the manufacture of cement.
Fiji faces major problems from global warming and climate change, with the rising sea level threatening the flooding of many parts of the country. Some reports from around the islands show that the average shoreline has been receding at 6 in. (0.15 m.) per year since 1920. The most dramatic effects of global warming have been seen on the island of Gau, in the Lomaiviti Group, to the east of the main island Viti Levu, which has lost 656 ft. (200 m.) of coast, with threats to Beachcomber Island and Treasure Island in the Mamanuca Group to the west of Viti Levu; with Lelevia and Caqelai also likely to be affected in the next 25 years. Other places likely to be affected are Tokou village on Ovalau Island, and even some villages on low-lying land on Viti Levu, such as Cula-nuku and Toguvu.
Another problem has been the rise in the amount of coral reef bleaching, especially during the summer months, mainly caused by the rise in water temperature, which is expected to cause a decline in marine life living on coral reefs. There has also been a noticeable rise in tropical cyclones, from three during the 1940s, to 15 in the 1990s. The Fijian government ratified the Vienna Convention in 1989, and took part in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change signed in Rio de Janeiro in May 1992, ratifying that in 1993. They signed the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on September 17, 1998, ratifying it the same day; it took effect on February 16, 2005.
SEE ALSo: Hurricanes and Typhoons; Oceanic Changes; Sea Level, Rising.
bibliography. Robyn Jones and Leonardo Pinheiro, Fiji (Lonely Planet, 2000); Les Kaufman, "Fiji's Rainbow Reefs," National Geographic (v.206/5, 2004); Jane Turnbull, "Explaining Complexities of Environmental Management in Developing Countries: Lessons from the Fiji Islands," Geographical Journal (v.170/1, 2004); Roger Vaughan, "The Two Worlds of Fiji," National Geographic (v.188/4, 1995); World Resources Institute, "Fiji—Climate and Atmosphere," www.earthtrends.wri.org (cited October 2007).
Justin Corfield Geelong Grammar School, Australia
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