The landscape we see at the surface of the Earth is a function of the interactions between internal and external processes. The earth systems approach of geology considers the planet as a whole, including rocks and rock formation, surface processes, oceans and atmospheres, and all natural resources. The study of the geologic theories about continental drift, and the observations that led to the development of plate tectonic theories show a dynamic and interactive level of the ecosystem often over-looked.
Before the dawn of modern geology in the 19th century, many people believed that Earth had been formed by catastrophes. The idea was that incredible events - huge volcanic blasts, floods, violent winds - swiftly built our planet. That theory, now discredited, is known as catastrophism. Most problems are far more accurately described by the newer theory of "uniformitarianism," which holds that Earth was made by the same forces we see today - the trickle of rain, the polishing of wind, the creep of continents - working steadily through unimaginable depths of time.
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.