Liberia

THE REPUBLIC of Liberia, located in West Africa, an independent country since 1847, has a land area of 43,000 sq. mi. (111,369 sq. km.), a population of 3,750,000 (2006 est.), and a population density of 75 people per sq. mi. (29 people per sq. km.). The economy of the country came largely from rubber, but since 1989 there has been extensive fighting in much of the country, leading to the installation of President Charles Taylor, and later his ejection from the country.

Some 39 percent of the country is forested, with 1 percent of the land arable, and a further 29 percent used for meadows and pasture. All of the country's electricity production comes from fossil fuels, with only the capital, Monrovia, covered by the country's electricity grid. Liquid fuels make up 99 percent of the country's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and the remaining 1 percent comes from cement manufacturing. The overall CO2 emissions per capita fluctuated from 0.1 to 0.2 metric tons 1990-2003. These changes reflect the fact that the central electricity supply system in the country stopped working during fighting in July 1990, causing most people to have gasoline-driven power generators. It was not until 1998 that the first traffic lights since 1990 were brought into operation in the capital. However, the civil war has had a major impact on the country's rainforests, with the illegal timber industry used to raise money for various sides in the conflict. This deforestation has had a major impact on the country's environmental problems, leading not only to increased greenhouse gases, but also to soil erosion.

Monrovia has the second highest rainfall rate in Africa, and, located on a peninsula, it is at risk of flooding if climate change and global warming lead to even a moderate rise in water levels in the Atlantic Ocean. The Liberian government of Amos Sawyer took part in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change signed in Rio de Janeiro in May 1992, and ratified the Vienna Convention in 1996. The subsequent government of Charles Taylor accepted the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on November 5, 2002, and ittook effect on February 16, 2005.

sEE ALso: Carbon Dioxide; Deforestation; Oil, Consumption of.

BIBLIoGRAPHY. Andrew Brackenbury, "Liberian Logs Fuel War," Geographical (v.74/8, 2002); World Resources Institute, "Liberia—Climate and Atmosphere," www.earthtrends.wri. org (cited October 2007).

Robin Corfield Independent Scholar

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