Scientist and politicians agreed in 1997 that the only hope for halting the seemingly inexorable shrinkage of the Aral Sea would involve drastic conservation. But because all the Central Asian countries require great amounts of water for irrigation and power, none is ready to take radical steps. Making a major cut in the amount of water taken from the feeding rivers would mean a big drop in agricultural production, widespread unemployment and tremendous social dislocation. "Maybe we could absorb 5 percent cut, but certainly not more than that." If these countries are going to change their ways and cut their water use, they need to industrialize or at least start growing other crops that don't need as much water. That is a huge project.
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.
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