People Worldwide See ISIS & Climate Change as Top Threats

FILE – In this file photo taken Monday, June 23, 2014, fighters from the Islamic State group parade in a commandeered Iraqi security forces armored vehicle on the main road at the northern city of Mosul, Iraq. (AP Photo, File)

(CN) — People worldwide consider ISIS and climate change the greatest threats to their nations’ security, according to a Pew Research Center survey of almost 42,000 respondents in 38 countries.

In the survey conducted from February to May, respondents were asked whether they considered ISIS, global climate change, cyberattacks from other countries, the global economy, refugees from countries such as Iran and Syria, and the power and influence of the U.S., Russia, and China to be major threats, minor threats, or no threat to their country’s national security.

Worldwide, ISIS and climate change were most often reported as major threats. Of the 37 countries polled (fear of ISIS was not asked in Turkey) a median of 62 percent found ISIS to be a major national security concern, and global climate change came in just behind at 61 percent as a threat to national safety.

In the United States 74 percent of people said they consider ISIS a major security threat, followed by cyberattacks from other countries at 71 percent and global climate change at 56 percent. Influence of Russia and China were viewed as less threatening, at 46 and 41 percent respectively, and 37 percent of respondents worried about the global economy, while 36 percent considered refugees to be a significant threat.

The widest gaps in ideology showed up in the question of the environment and refugees. Sixty percent of Americans who identify themselves as political conservatives consider refugees to be a threat, while only 14 percent of self-identified liberals agree. Eighty-six percent of liberal Americans consider global climate change a pressing danger, compared to 31 percent of conservatives.

Worldwide, though ISIS and climate change were consistently felt to be the greatest perceived threats, there were regional differences. Countries with unstable economies, such as Greece, tended to rate the global economy as a more significant threat. ISIS was considered an overwhelming menace in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

In Latin America and Africa, climate change was seen as the top threat, often surpassing fear of ISIS by significant margins.

Globally, about one-third of respondents viewed the power and influence of the United States, Russia or China as a major threat. America’s influence is a top concern in Turkey, whose failed coup attempt last year has been blamed upon the United States. In South Korea and Vietnam, 80 percent or more saw China’s power and influence as a major threat. Among the countries surveyed, fear of Russia was most prevalent in Poland.

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