Environmental issues that may become priorities in the 21st century can be clustered in three groups - unforeseen events and scientific discoveries; sudden, unexpected transformations of old issues; and already well-known issues to which the present response is inadequate. The Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment of the International Council for Science conducted a special survey for GEO-2000 on environmental issues that may require attention in the 21st century. Most of the responding scientists expect that the major environmental problems of the next century will stem from the continuation and aggravation of existing problems that currently do not receive enough policy attention. The issues cited most frequently are climate change, and the quantity and quality of water resources. Many scientists emphasized that the interlinkages between climate change and other environmental problems could be important. This includes the emerging scientific understanding of complex interactions in the atmosphere-biosphere-cryosphere-ocean system - which could lead to irreversible changes such as shifts in ocean currents and changes in biodiversity.
There are three ways of making predictions about the future climatic conditions: theory, computer models and existing data. All existing theoretical models about the climate are crude and very limited, as illustrated by the accuracy of weather forecasts of periods longer than five days. Computer models of the climate are based on theory and are limited. The use of existing data, that is past data, is a poor guide to the future.
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.
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.