The United States: Where Climate Change Is Not Seen as a Top Threat

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The United States: Where Climate Change Is Not Seen as a Top Threat

Pew survey finds that U.S. respondents see ISIS, Iran's nuclear program as far greater threats

The majorities of publics in Latin America and Africa see global climate change as a top threat, but not those in the US.  (Photo:  RonF/The Weekly Bull/flickr/cc)

The Pew Research Center is out with the findings of a new global survey which shows that—in contrast to nearly half the nations surveyed—those in the U.S do not see climate change as a top threat.

Forty-two percent of respondents in the U.S. said they were very concerned about global climate change. Ranking higher were perceived threats from ISIS (68 percent), Iran's nuclear program (62 percent), cyber-attacks (59 percent), global economic instability (51 percent), and tensions with Russia (43 percent).

Only territorial disputes with China ranked lower than climate change at 30 percent.

Partisan divide was clear, however, with 62 percent of Democrats seeing climate change as a top threat, compared to 20 percent of Republicans.

In the U.S., Europe and the Middle East, ISIS was seen as a top threat. In the UK, for example, 66 percent say they are very concerned about ISIS, a level of fear shared by 84 percent of respondents in Lebanon and 70 percent in Germany.

But global climate change is seen as a top threat 19 of the 40 countries surveyed, including those on the frontlines of the crisis, like the Philippines, Burkina Faso, Brazil, and Peru. Looking at regions as a whole, respondents in Latin America expressed the most concern over climate change with 61 percent seeing it as a very serious threat. And in half of the Asian countries surveyed, climate change was seen as a bigger threat than the other issues.

This widespread view of climate change as a top threat may call for a shift-change in dealing with greenhouse gas emitters, Dr. Michael Dorsey, a member of the Club of Rome and an expert on global governance and sustainability, told IPS News.

"If publics fear climate change more than terrorism, we might have to re-think collective and regulatory approaches for entities responsible for carbon pollution.

"If we accept the fact that carbon pollution drives both human mortality and morbidity, compromises ecosystems, and threatens society, then institutions and firms that produce carbon pollution, as well as those who opt to finance carbon polluters are akin to those who work with entities engaged in and financing terrorism," Dorsey said.

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