The moral foundations of the relationship of industrial civilization with animals and nature is clearly flawed by its lack of awareness for all life. In order to further the exploitation of animals by the biomedical, farming and wildlife "resource" industries, such beliefs as man's dominion over nature and the irrelevance of animal rights, divinity or capacity to suffer emotionally become essential defences to rationalize away and deny empathetic feelings of compassion, guilt and responsibility. Empathy is also impaired towards animals because humans lack objective, scientific knowledge about the behavioural requirements and emotional, subjective world of animals. Farmers, animal scientists and others involved in livestock production also have little training in ethology. Desensitization occurs naturally as a defence mechanism when humans have to perform various painful procedures upon animals and are ultimately obliged to kill them. Empathy is thus withdrawn because the burden of responsible compassion associated with it awakens the individual's sense of vulnerability. Closing off empathy, especially in laboratory animal research, factory farming and wildlife exploitation ultimately distorts perceptions and objectivity, and becomes a primary source of needless animal abuse and suffering.
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.