The rapidly changing state of the world makes planning in the face of complex interconnected problems a formidable challenge. Our ability to conceive adequate solutions and strategies is often undermined by our lack of understanding of the nature of problems in their wider context. The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential offers a radically different perspective to associations, policy-makers, social researchers and those concerned with development strategy. By clarifying the ways in which problems reinforce and sustain each other, the Encyclopedia shifts the level of attention from isolated problems to problem cycles, and thus to sustainable strategy cycles. This allows for a more holistic understanding of the environment in which global problems and strategies are situated.
War generally denotes armed conflict. It can also mean sustained conflict, such as a cold war, in which the force of arms plays a highly significant part although armed forces may not come into direct confrontation. Methods of warfare include nuclear, chemical and biological, enhanced conventional as well as less sophisticated means of land, sea and air warfare, economic warfare and guerrilla warfare. Types of war include civil, international, nationalist, racial, religious and ideological. A steadily growing number of conflicts erupt within countries owing to economic, social, ethnic or religious differences and cause much damage. The repercussions of these conflicts have exacerbated the difficulties of the victims, who frequently are left unprotected since existing international legal instruments are not applicable to their situation.
Armed conflicts jeopardize and delay efforts to achieve development. There is a prejudicial interrelationship between underdevelopment and war. It is the civilian populations, and in particular children, who lose most in war in terms of suffering and death. And the consequences of an armed conflict may be very cruel for the combatants themselves and their families.
Cancer, which is not a single disease but a spectrum of diseases that includes more than 100 kinds, is characterized by the unrestrained growth of cells. Cells naturally grow and multiply, but in a healthy body this growth is controlled by a complex series of regulatory mechanisms. Cancer occurs when this regulation fails and cell division goes haywire. In most cancer cases, unrestrained growth leads to the formation of tumours which spread into and often kill normal tissue. When not attended to, such a tumour (which is called malignant) ordinarily leads to death, but there can be a long delay between its onset and the appearance of obvious symptoms.
In connective tissues (such as bone, cartilage, tendon, muscle) cancers are called sarcomas; in epithelial tissues (such as skin, bladder, lung, breast) they are called carcinomas; and in cells of the blood system they are named leukaemias.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the industrialized world and is rapidly becoming a major disease in the Third World as well. Though the aetiology is still undetermined, certain cancers are linked to certain environmental and lifestyle factors such as carcinogenic substances in the work environment, cigarette smoking, excess exposure to the sun, alcohol, diets high in fat and low in fibre, and stress.
Speculating about the origins of cancer, many oncologists describe a cancer personality - repressed and depressed - and draw attention to the loss or bereavement which commonly precedes the onset of the disease. Lung cancer patients are most often people unable to express strong emotions. Cancer of the cervix occurs most often among women with a tendency to helplessness or a sense of hopeless frustration derived from some unresolved conflict in the preceding six months. Overall, the most important factors in the development of malignancy are: a loss of raison d'Ãªtre; an inability to express anger or resentment; marked self dislike and distrust; and most significantly, loss of an important emotional relationship.
Prisons, penitentiaries, reformatories or correctional institutions, are virtually the only form of legal punishment today. Those who overstep the laws of society are no longer deported, publicly humiliated, or inflicted with brutal corporal punishments, and rarely are they executed. They are shut away from society in prisons which, with few exceptions, provide a punitive, negative environment, in which offenders serve out their terms in a state of demoralizing idleness.
The traditional, reforming role of imprisonment is being increasingly questioned, and the morale of prison staff has suffered as a result. The initial ideal of rehabilitation has fallen prey to all the complexities of the modern crime problem. With the enormous increase in criminal activity, prisons are over-crowded. They are often little more than warehouses of despair where unhealthy and inhumane conditions erupt in violence, rioting and insurrection. With two or three people crowded into the space intended for one, there is little incentive for introspection and reflection. There are other conditions that militate against rehabilitation. For example, the deprivation of personal security, of mobility and of privacy. In some institutions there is never quiet. In others the lights are never turned off. The link with the outside world is often tenuous, with visits limited and correspondence censored, delayed, or sometimes thrown away altogether, according to the inclination of the current administering officials. These seemingly petty matters can cause extreme psychological damage.
Computers facilitate the theft of money and property and the destruction of data when there are inadequate controls against their misuse. Crimes perpetrated by unauthorized access to keyboards, terminals and communications devices generally can be described as thefts, misapplications of assets, or destruction of information. These terms may apply to the misappropriation of money and real property, or of proprietary information and intangible assets. The misuse of the computer may involve the forgery of computer signatures such as authorizing codes; the creation of false accounts payable to disburse cheques; improper use of personal information; the creation of "virus" or "rogue" programmes which interfere in software operations and destroy data. All of these crimes include programming the erasure of any evidence of the computer crime perpetrated. Probably the fastest growing category of computer related crime is that involving electronic fund transfer systems. The most significant types of computer crime were: arson, sabotage and malicious damage of computer installations; system penetration, or "hacking"; unauthorized use of computer time; thefts of assets, including software; embezzlement of funds; defrauding of consumers and investors; and destruction or alteration of data (including college transcripts and diplomas) and software. The motive is usually personal financial gain, anger or revenge but another significant impetus is 'the intellectual challenge' associated with computer crime.
The absence of, or inadequate provision for, documentation and access controls for computer installations, facilitates computer crime. Unauthorized access to software and hardware is almost exclusively the means of crime perpetration. With authorized access, but with criminal collusion, two or more persons may commit crimes unnoticed, until financial audits, inventories, and computer operation system checks uncover the fraud or misuse. In the case of theft of intangible properties such as computer-stored patents of engineering, chemical or other designs, processes, or marketing and strategic data, the crime is exposed, if at all, by inferences drawn from the activities, products or knowledge shown by competitors.
Over half of the world's population is living in 3% of the earth's land mass. This trend towards urbanization is divided unequally with 17 out of the 20 largest cities in the world being located in developing countries. Many of these countries face phenomenal growth of small and medium-sized municipalities.
Under present conditions and levels of technology, the continued expansion of large urban centres creates risks of physical, economic and social breakdowns with the most serious political consequences. In both developing and developed countries, urban growth has been accompanied by severe social and economic problems, some of which appear likely to worsen as overall population growth is accompanied by the trend toward greater urban growth.
In developed countries, problems of environmental deterioration (especially air and water pollution), traffic congestion, and other disamenities are encountered. In the developing countries, it is difficult to provide the minimum social services such as housing, water supply, sanitation, education, and medical facilities in the rapidly growing urban areas, or to absorb an ever expanding labour force into struggling urban economies. This results in a deterioration of environmental quality. In some countries, the growth of the cities is reducing land available for food production. In an average city there is no clearly recognisable structure or satisfactory layout. Most cities are built haphazardly resulting in a random character that confuses the identity of city communities, creates chaos in the pattern of land use, wastes resources and prohibits coherent patterns of any kind. Cities are not capable of providing neither intense activity in high density areas, nor intense quiet in low density areas.
The problems of the large cities of the developing countries are due largely to the fact that they have materialized ahead of any systematic movement towards modernization. Many of these cities formed transmission points from which raw materials and food were sent to the metropolises of Europe and North America, and to which manufactured goods returned. Lacking is the human and technical resources necessary to deal with the full range of urban development needs, also hampered by the dense "forest" of vertical and horizontal separations within often unmanageable national bureaucracies. Rapid population growth has increased the tendency of cities in developing countries to outgrow the resources of the economies they are supposed to nourish and support. The traditional range of public services, utilities and welfare services taken for granted in the cities of developed countries are not generally available to the inhabitants of most of the cities of developing countries; even less so in the rural areas. Lack of finance, infrastructure and skills at all levels contribute to this situation.
One of the overriding influences is at the policy-making level, where the application of priorities, based on the experiences of developed countries, has led to a misunderstanding of the urbanization process. Indeed, neither the historically conventional European city, nor the colonial city, which has been the main focus of large-scale urbanization in the rest of the world, is really well-adapted to developing countries at the present time. Nor can the largest industrial cities, for all their success in other spheres, be accepted as socially or culturally desirable models, most having conspicuously failed to adapt to modern conditions and frequently having become sprawling industrial centres of dreary anonymity. The city throughout the developing world is in one sense the sign and symbol of a development process that could break down completely in the near future. Life in the city is failing to make good deficiencies in literacy and job skills or to provide work which the illiterate and unskilled can do.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a unique, experimental research work of the Union of International Associations. It is currently published as a searchable online platform with profiles of world problems, action strategies, and human values that are interlinked in novel and innovative ways. These connections are based on a range of relationships such as broader and narrower scope, aggravation, relatedness and more. By concentrating on these links and relationships, the Encyclopedia is uniquely positioned to bring focus to the complex and expansive sphere of global issues and their interconnected nature.
The initial content for the Encyclopedia was seeded from UIA’s Yearbook of International Organizations. UIA’s decades of collected data on the enormous variety of association life provided a broad initial perspective on the myriad problems of humanity. Recognizing that international associations are generally confronting world problems and developing action strategies based on particular values, the initial content was based on the descriptions, aims, titles and profiles of international associations.
The Union of International Associations (UIA) is a research institute and documentation centre, based in Brussels. It was established in 1907, by Henri la Fontaine (Nobel Peace Prize laureate of 1913), and Paul Otlet, a founding father of what is now called information science.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.