located in THE Pacific, on the eastern half of the island of New Guinea, Papua New Guinea has a land area of 178,703 sq. mi. (462,840 sq. km.), with a population of 6,331,000 (2006 est.), and a population density of 34 people per sq. mi. (13 people per sq. km.). In spite of having a tropical monsoon climate, only 0.1 percent of the land is arable, with 82 percent of the country forested. Conservationists and environmentalists condemn the rate of the timber logging industry as unsustainable.
Some 55 percent of the electricity in the country comes from fossil fuels, mainly liquid fuels, which account for 93 percent of Papua New Guinea's carbon dioxide emissions. The remainder of the electricity in the country comes from hydropower. Plans to harness the power of the Purari in the early 1970s were shelved, with the Ramu River used to generate hydropower from the 1980s.
The effect of climate change and global warming in Papua New Guinea has been significant. A rise in temperature has led to the bleaching of some coral reefs off the south coast of the country, which has exacerbated the problems from logging and the crown-of-thorns starfish. There has also been a decline in the fish stocks, both in diversity and numbers. In addition, some parts of the country have experienced flooding, which has led to an increase in the prevalence of insect-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever.
The Papua New Guinea government took part in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change signed in Rio de Janeiro in May 1992. It signed the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on March 2, 1999, and ratified it on March 28, 2002, with it entering into force on February 16, 2005.
sEE ALsO: Deforestation; Floods; Forests.
bibliography. Approaches to Environmental Planning in Papua New Guinea (Office of Environment and Conservation, 1980); Hydroelectric Potential of Papua New Guinea (Australian Department of Housing and Construction for the Papua New Guinea Electricity Commission, 1974); "Papua New Guinea—Climate and Atmosphere," www. earthtrends.wri.org (cited October 2007); Eric Shibuya,
"Roaring Mice Against the Tide: The South Pacific Islands and Agenda-Building on Global Warming," Pacific Affairs (v.69/4, 1996-97).
Robin S. Corfield Independent Scholar
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