A new survey by Pew Research center, published Tuesday, found that the Islamic State was effectively tied with climate change as the most feared security threat worldwide. One exception was in the United States, where the survey found cyberattacks elicit more concern than climate change.
In the poll, residents of 13 countries considered climate change the most dire threat to national security, while citizens of another 17 countries felt the Islamic State was the more urgent threat.
In the US, climate change was ranked third, after the Islamic State and cyberattacks. A growing partisan divide since the 2016 election, in which intelligence agencies found that Russia had interfered, could be responsible for this perception. Meanwhile, Trump has called climate change a “hoax” and his administration has promoted the notion that the science of climate change remains unsettled. Only 56 percent of Americans reported that climate change was the most dire threat, while 71 percent ranked cyberattacks as the most serious threat, and 74 percent for attacks by the Islamic State.
According to Jacob Poushter, senior researcher for Pew and co-author of the new report, the US was an exception to the rule that terrorism and climate change were seen as the most dire threats worldwide.
“The stark partisan divide between those on the left and the right means there is a large portion in the United States that doesn’t see climate change as a threat. But there’s a large percentage that does, so that lowers the number.”
The report surveyed 41,953 people in 38 countries, between February and May. Beyond the rankings of threats, the survey investigated how people view climate change worldwide.
In Latin America, 74 percent of those surveyed considered global warming an urgent concern. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “significant trends in precipitation and temperature” could be responsible for the high level of concern.
The survey found Russians ranked among the least alarmed by the prospect of climate change, ranking the issue 5th in the survey, below the Islamic State, economic concerns, the refugee crisis, and the influence of the United States.
In the US, the survey found a wide partisan divide in terms of climate change concern. 86 percent of Americans who identified as left-leaning considered climate change a dire threat, while only 31 percent of those leaning right felt the same way. That divide was larger than the partisan divide on the Islamic State and the refugee crisis.