Water is essential to life, but also provides the broadest of services without which human society could not function. Since the start of the industrial revolution, global water usage has continued to increased many-fold. Current patterns of freshwater use cannot be sustained if the human population maintains its rate of growth. Many more countries could suffer from chronic water shortages due to rapid population growth, and possible disadvantageous climatic changes. Competition for water resources is growing and exceeding institutional capacity to manage it, as well as leading to more environmentally degrading water diversion, retention and extraction methods such as damming. In most countries, irrigated agriculture is the main consumer of water. As with irrigation, other water uses are often mismanaged and can lead to consequences such as gross over usage and waste of water, salinization, overpumping and land subsidence. Throughout the world, water quality is impaired by pollution and misuse, and water pathogens are the biggest killer and cause of disease in lower-income countries.
Global water withdrawal has increased an estimated thirty-five-fold during the last three centuries, and is projected to increase by 30-35% by 2000. Irrigated agriculture accounts for about seventy percent of world water withdrawal, but less than half of the water supplied contributes to crop growth. Many countries suffer serious water shortage. Water diversion, extraction and retention are having increasingly severe impacts on ecosystems.
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.
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