The rapidly changing state of the world makes planning in the face of complex interconnected problems a formidable challenge. Our ability to conceive adequate solutions and strategies is often undermined by our lack of understanding of the nature of problems in their wider context. The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential offers a radically different perspective to associations, policy-makers, social researchers and those concerned with development strategy. By clarifying the ways in which problems reinforce and sustain each other, the Encyclopedia shifts the level of attention from isolated problems to problem cycles, and thus to sustainable strategy cycles. This allows for a more holistic understanding of the environment in which global problems and strategies are situated.
Active repression of human rights (including the right to work, education, social security, health, national self-determination, individual liberty, freedom of thought, expression, movement, privacy, religion, and ideology) or passive refusal to ensure human rights, usually on the part of governments, but also on the part of groups and individuals, occurs regardless of constitutions, legal provisions and bona fide statements. Human societies are so organized that in practice they tend to deny at least some of man's inalienable rights to some of its members on the grounds of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. The widespread violations of human rights over the globe relate to the insecurity of governments that do not have a broad popular support; to the need to maintain national security in times of real or perceived external threat; to the imposition of a form of organization of society on the minority or majority that do not accept it; to the maintenance of political stability seen as a sine qua non for economic and social progress; to, sometimes, the personal idiosyncracies or perversity of dictators; and, perhaps, to the conception of power seen and lived as limitless, by conviction or tactic.
The arms race has two characteristic features: One is the multiplication and proliferation of primarily non-nuclear, tactical armaments. The other takes the form of a very rapid rate of product innovation and improvement and a constant search for new environments in which weapons can be used. At first sight it would seem that the effort to improve the quality of armaments, or to defend against them, follows a logical series of steps in which a new weapon or weapon-system is devised, then a counter-weapon to neutralize the new weapon, and then a counter-counter-weapon. But these steps neither usually nor necessarily occur in a rational time sequence. Those who design improvements in weapons are as a rule the same people who envisage the further steps to be taken. They do not wait for a potential enemy to react before they themselves react against their own creations. Before a new weapon is brought into service, the military designer is, as a rule, already designing a new model which – he hopes – will not only be more effective in performance, but also less vulnerable to defences which the other side might introduce in response to the new threat. Thus obsolescence becomes characteristic of the technological arms race. These features of the arms race show up very clearly in the field of long-range nuclear weapons. First there was a rapid change in the means of delivery, starting with the switch from manned bombers to liquid-fuelled ballistic missiles, beginning with intermediate and moving on to rockets of intercontinental range. Solid-fuelled missiles soon followed, deployed in concrete silos, in order to protect them from attack. In parallel, submarine-launched ballistic missiles were developed and deployed.
It does not necessarily follow that the process of action and reaction which characterizes the arms race, certainly the arms race in sophisticated weapons, means that security is increased as more is spent on armaments. Indeed in the field of nuclear weaponry the reverse appears to be the case. Each new step in the elaboration of such armaments usually ushers in a more perilous stage of uncertainty and insecurity. Furthermore, every new generation of weapons and weapon systems inevitably demands more and more resources which could be used for different economic and social purposes. By encouraging the development of certain areas of technology, and by providing resources for basic fields of science which might bear upon the development of sophisticated weapons, the arms race also inevitably affects the direction and tempo of a country's scientific and technological development. Its effect has been to encourage work in certain fields of knowledge and to retard progress in others. It stimulates a demand for certain classes of specialist and for certain kinds of specialized information, without which desired military projects could not be achieved. Short of powerful political decision in a contrary direction, this process, particularly so far as it concerns sophisticated modern weapons, could go on indefinitely.
The arms race has in fact become noticeably a technological race, the achievements of one side spurring the other to improve on the technological advances which it might have made itself. Sometimes the spur comes not from some clearly defined threat but from an imagined technical advance made by the other side. Secrecy in military affairs makes it inevitable that a potential enemy will usually be suspected of being stronger than he actually is. Consequently both sides strive continuously to improve the quantity and quality of their arms. So it is that the arms race becomes based on the 'hypothesis of the worst case', that is to say, one of two sides designs its programme of development on the assumption that its rival could, if it so decided, be the stronger.
Military expenditures not only divert resources from other uses, but also tend to disturb and destabilize the economy in general. Increased taxation or borrowing needed to raise money for arms (in developed market economies) slows the growth in personal consumption or private investment. If taxes are not raised, spending on such programmes as welfare services or education may be reduced, thus dislocating long-term social policies. Inflationary processes may be generated. In centrally planned economies, military expenditures limit the flexibility with which the economy can be planned, and the problem of preserving a proper balance between supply and demand for various industries and sectors becomes more difficult. In developing countries where the tax-base is limited, the pay of civil servants and the cost of military forces often take up much of the government's revenue. Revenues that might go into development are used instead for military purposes. In addition, military spending often puts a heavy burden on the balance of payments due to the purchase of arms from abroad.
The arms race is an important factor in limiting the expansion of international exchanges. Military considerations limit trade in so-called strategic commodities and products of advanced technology, and have led to creation of rival trade groupings. Strategic considerations inhibit technological and scientific exchanges between countries. Also, protectionist policies to favour domestic industry or agriculture are often defended on the grounds of maintaining the supply of vital commodities in time of war. This argument could not be advanced to justify trade barriers in a disarmed world. Trade between centrally planned economic and developed market countries has clearly been affected by the arms race and by the tensions between the two systems. This trade accounts for only 5% of world trade. It would rise significantly the faster the arms race came to a halt. As for the developing countries, the scarce foreign exchange resources used to obtain armaments could be applied to growth-producing purposes. In a world progressively disarmed, the level of trade could well be higher simply because of a higher level of world output.
Inept theoretical models of society and community in the face of rapidly changing economic, political and cultural trends leaves decision makers at every level dramatically unequipped to create effective solutions. Models of society tend to be static, implementation of plans tend to be sequential and linear, social components are envisaged in fragmented ways, and reflections on progress focus on establishing blame or praise.
Policy makers and their advisors tend to use inappropriate static models of social change. These models include: the divine right of rulers, the responsibility of the chosen few to make decisions on behalf of the inept many, and belief in eternal principles of social interaction. The results of these static models of society include: fragmented and protectionist policies, rigid laws and traditions and injustice.
Large international corporations have created financial planning models with global perspective; but they largely exclude national corporations from the planning process, even though the national corporations are also dependent on the global situation. The needs of the consumer are seen only from the vantage point of the producers, which even further distorts meaningful planning.
Although there is accumulating evidence of environmental interdependence, the majority of people only give thought to their immediate environmental situation rather than directing energy to long-range, more inclusive, environmental planning. This concentration on individual circumstances avoids purposeful action on local and global environmental issues and leads to fears for the future as evidence on environmental issues grows.
Plant disease can be simply defined as any deviation from normal vegetative health and growth; and more scientifically as an injurious physiological process caused by the continued irritation of a primary causal factor, exhibited through abnormal cellular activity and expressed in characteristic pathological conditions called symptoms.
Some diseases can be attributed to inanimate and nonparasitic factors such as adverse environmental conditions. Physical and mechanical damage brought about by violent storms, improper cultivation practices, etc, besides being disastrous in themselves, may prepare the way for widespread infection by other disease agents. Living agents such as insects not only interfere directly with plant metabolism, but also frequently carry other disease agents from plant. A number of economically important disease-causing factors are plants themselves: bacteria and fungi. Algae are responsible for some relatively unimportant tropical plant diseases. Among flowering plants only a few forms are of occasional importance. Several slime moulds, numerous viruses and nematodes are also important agents of plant disease.
The symptoms of plant diseases may be death (necrosis) of all or any part of the plant, loss of turgor (wilt), overgrowths, stunting, or various other changes in the structure of the plant. A rapid death of foliage is often called blight, whereas localized necrosis results in leaf spots. Necrosis of stems or bark results in cankers. Overgrowths composed primarily of undifferentiated cells are called galls, or, less commonly, tumours. Chlorosis (lack of chlorophyll in varying degree) is the most common nonstructural evidence of disease. In leaves it may occur in stripes or in irregular spots (mosaic). These symptoms grade into one another and overlap. Often two or more bacteria, fungi, viruses or a combination of them together attack a plant to produce much greater damage than that resulting from a single agent alone. Furthermore, a plant which is already suffering from a deficient environment is more susceptible to attack by such agents.
Cancer, which is not a single disease but a spectrum of diseases that includes more than 100 kinds, is characterized by the unrestrained growth of cells. Cells naturally grow and multiply, but in a healthy body this growth is controlled by a complex series of regulatory mechanisms. Cancer occurs when this regulation fails and cell division goes haywire. In most cancer cases, unrestrained growth leads to the formation of tumours which spread into and often kill normal tissue. When not attended to, such a tumour (which is called malignant) ordinarily leads to death, but there can be a long delay between its onset and the appearance of obvious symptoms.
In connective tissues (such as bone, cartilage, tendon, muscle) cancers are called sarcomas; in epithelial tissues (such as skin, bladder, lung, breast) they are called carcinomas; and in cells of the blood system they are named leukaemias.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the industrialized world and is rapidly becoming a major disease in the Third World as well. Though the aetiology is still undetermined, certain cancers are linked to certain environmental and lifestyle factors such as carcinogenic substances in the work environment, cigarette smoking, excess exposure to the sun, alcohol, diets high in fat and low in fibre, and stress.
Speculating about the origins of cancer, many oncologists describe a cancer personality - repressed and depressed - and draw attention to the loss or bereavement which commonly precedes the onset of the disease. Lung cancer patients are most often people unable to express strong emotions. Cancer of the cervix occurs most often among women with a tendency to helplessness or a sense of hopeless frustration derived from some unresolved conflict in the preceding six months. Overall, the most important factors in the development of malignancy are: a loss of raison d'Ãªtre; an inability to express anger or resentment; marked self dislike and distrust; and most significantly, loss of an important emotional relationship.
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.
The Union of International Associations (UIA) is a research institute and documentation centre, based in Brussels. It was established in 1907, by Henri la Fontaine (Nobel Peace Prize laureate of 1913), and Paul Otlet, a founding father of what is now called information science.
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.