Shallow environmental ethics conceives of moral imperatives as restricted to humans. It stresses individual options over social options. It supports a fragmented vision of reality, and a gap between values and practice. Ethical reflection related to nature is reduced, and the environmental is relegated to resources for human use. It holds that humans have the wisdom to manage nature.
From a nationwide USA survey (1991), 8 out of 10 Americans regard themselves as environmentalists and half of those said they are strong ones; but over half think the need to protect jobs in forest areas is more important than the need to protect the endangered spotted owl, an indicator species linked to healthy forests. 8 out of 10 say protecting the environment is generally more important than keeping prices down; but only 46% surveyed said they had actually decided to buy (in the past six months) any items based on the environmental reputation of a product or manufacturer. 53% said it will take fundamental changes in lifestyle rather than scientific advances to bring about dramatic changes in the environment but only 1% to 5% of residents who lived in communities with hazardous waste collection programmes in 1989 actually used them. In 1990, 78% believed that a major national effort was needed to improve the environment; but only 22% were actively working toward solutions.
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.