THE Republic of Namibia has a land area of 318,696 sq. mi. (824,290 square km.), a population of 2,074,000 (2006 est.), and a population density of 6.5 people per sq. mi. (2.5 people per square km.). Namibia has the lowest population density of any African country. Much of Namibia is arid, with only 1 percent of the land arable and 46 percent used for pasture, mainly low intensity grazing of cattle, sheep, and goats. The country has an extremely low rate of carbon dioxide emissions, at 1 metric ton per person in 1995, rising to 1.24 metric tons by 2004. This is largely because there is relatively low electricity use in the country; of the 603 million kWh used in 2001, some 578 million kWh was imported from South Africa, and 98 percent of local production came from hydropower.
Since independence in 1990, there have been a number of attempts to increase hydropower production. There was a projected water shortage in the late 1990s, which stopped plans to build a hydroelectric plant on the Kumene River, in the Kaokoveld region, which, as well as power, would also be able to provide water to Windhoek, the capital. However, in 2000 and 2001, there were heavy rains, resulting in extensive flooding, which provided far more water than was needed. The distances in Namibia are vast, with transportation accounting for 85 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions in the country. Thirteen percent of emissions come from manufacturing and construction.
Although it contributes very little to greenhouse gas emissions, the effects of global warming and climate change on Namibia have been significant. The rising temperatures have reduced the already limited amount of arable land in the country. The coastline of Namibia, nicknamed the Skeleton Coast because of the remains of whales from the whaling industry of the 19th century, and the shipwrecks of the 19th and 20th centuries, has also been badly affected by the Benguela El Niño. This has come about from the temperature of the Benguela Current, off the coast of Namibia, reducing fish stocks and impacting the coastline.
The Namibian government took part in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change signed in Rio de Janeiro in May 1992. The government accepted the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on September 4, 2003, and took effect on February 16, 2005.
see also: Benguela Current; Deserts; El Niño and La Niña.
bibliography. Emmanuel Kreike, Re-Creating Eden: Land Use, Environment and Society in Southern Angola and
Northern Namibia (Heinemann, 2004); "Namibia—Climate and Atmosphere," www.earthtrends.wri.org (cited October 2007); David Weaver and Katherine Elliot, "Spatial Patterns and Problems in Contemporary Namibian Tourism," Geographical Journal (v.162/2, 1996).
Robin S. Corfield Independent Scholar
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