Pew Research: Climate Change Named as a Top Global Threat

According to the Pew Research Center, ISIS, cyberattacks, and climate change are what people globally see as top threats. ISIS is undoubtedly dangerous, but statistically, the risks of dying from a terrorist attack are one in millions. There are other problems that kill a lot more people than terrorism does — smoking, hospital medical malpractice, and car crashes, for example. ISIS terrorism is seen as a bigger threat than it really is possibly because of too much media manipulation of the issue and power structures attempting to control people by using fear.

Cyberattacks, those also raise significant risks, and that’s why nations should move towards treaties to diminish the threat. As written about in books such as Lights Out by Ted Koppel, a cyberattack on the electric grid could cause serious chaos.

The potential environmental catastrophe is still probably the top threat, however. There is potentially trillions of dollars worth of damage to the world economies and added destabilization that will lead to an overabundance of problems.

People around the globe identify ISIS and climate change as the leading threats to national security, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. The survey asked about eight possible threats. While the level and focus of concern varies by region and country, ISIS and climate change clearly emerge as the most frequently cited security risks across the 38 countries polled.

ISIS is named as the top threat in a total of 18 countries surveyed – mostly concentrated in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the United States. A substantial number of these countries have endured deadly terrorist attacks claimed by the Islamic militant group.

In 13 countries, mostly in Latin America and Africa, publics identify global climate change as the topmost threat. It is the second-ranked concern in many other countries polled.

Cyberattacks from other countries and the condition of the global economy are named as major threats by global medians of 51% each. Cyberattacks are the top concern in Japan and second-highest concern in places such as the U.S., Germany and the UK, where there have been a number of high-profile attacks of this type in recent months.

People in Greece and Venezuela view the health of the international economy as the leading threat to their countries, perhaps reflecting these nations’ economic struggles in recent years. Many countries surveyed in the Middle East and Latin America name economic turmoil as their second-greatest concern.

The influx of refugees, which was of particular concern in Europe in 2016, is seen as a major threat by a median of 39% across the 38 countries. It is the top threat in only one country, however: Hungary.

Globally, a median of about one-third view the power and influence of the U.S., Russia or China as a major threat. America’s influence is a top concern in Turkey.1 And in South Korea and Vietnam, eight-in-ten or more name China’s power and influence as a major threat. Meanwhile, among the countries surveyed, fears of Russia are most acute in Poland.


A similar right-left divide also exists for those who see ISIS as a major threat. In Canada, 59% on the right say that ISIS is a major threat, compared with only 33% of those on the left. Significant political divides on the ISIS threat also exist in the U.S. (a 22-percentage-point difference) and seven other EU countries.

On the threat of global climate change, there is a reverse pattern, with those on the political left in some countries more concerned about it than those on the right. This is most stark in the U.S., where 86% of liberals say climate change is a major concern, versus only 31% of conservatives. But this left-right divide also exists in Canada, the Netherlands, the UK, Sweden and Germany, though not to the same extent as in America.