One reason there are so few marine species designated extinct or endangered is the difficulty of declaring with certainty that no example of a species exists anywhere in the vast oceans. Specialists can cite dozens of cases of marine life that have not been seen for decades, or even a century, but saying those species do not exist anywhere is a more difficult matter.
In 1991, two researchers declared a Panamanian fire coral extinct but had to retract the declaration a year later after several examples of the species were located. Some species can become extinct without being noticed. In the mid 1990's researchers discovered the eelgrass limpet, a tiny snail that once flourished along the Atlantic coast of America, had been wiped out in the 1930's when a fungus destroyed its grass-like host plant.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
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.