A LANDLOCKED COUNTRY located in southern Africa, Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) has a land area of 150,871 sq. mi. (390,757 sq. km.), with a population of 13,349,000 (2006 est.) and a population density of 85 people per sq. mi. (33 people per sq. km.). Its economy has been heavily reliant on agriculture, with 7 percent of the country being arable, 13 percent being used as meadows or pasture, and 62 percent being forested.
In Zimbabwe, some 53.3 percent of electricity generation comes from fossil fuels, with 46.7 percent from hydropower. This extensive use of hydropower, much of it from the Kariba Dam, as well as the declining economy in the country, has led to Zimbabwe having a low rate of per capita carbon dioxide emissions—1.6 metric tons per person in 1990, falling to 0.81 metric tons in 2004. In 1999, electricity production contributed 55 percent of Zimbabwe's carbon dioxide emissions, with manufacturing and construction making up 23 percent and transportation a further 20 percent. In terms of the source of carbon dioxide emissions, 86 percent were from solid fuels, with 10 percent from liquid fuels, and most of the remainder from gaseous fuels. Problems with electricity supplies in the country have led to many people reverting to the use of private generators. The economy has also been badly damaged by a decline in the demand for tobacco—the most important single export in the country.
The effects of global warming on the country have been a steady alienation of marginal arable land, which, together with a general decline in the economy, has seen widespread impoverishment. The rise in temperature has also affected the productivity of fish farms. The Zimbabwean government of Robert Mugabe took part in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, signed in Rio de Janeiro in May 1992, but the government has so far not expressed an opinion on the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. However C. Madova, co-vice president of the African Region at the World Bank addressed the Fifth World Bank Conference on Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development in Washington, D.C., in December 1997, supporting measures to reduce world emissions.
SEE ALSO: Carbon Dioxide; Climate Change, Effects.
BIBLIOGRAPHY. Peter Godwin, "Zimbabwe's Bitter Harvest" National Geographic (v.204/2, August 2003); Ian Scoones, "The Dynamics of Soil Fertility Change: Historical Perspectives on Environmental Transformation From Zimbabwe" Geographical Journal (v.163/2, July 1997); World Resources Institute, "Zimbabwe—Climate and Atmosphere," www. earthtrends.wri.org (cited October 2007).
Robin S. Corfield Independent Scholar
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