Report: Climate Change Seen as Top Global Threat

A survey across 19 countries found that a median of 75% consider climate change as a major threat, according to a report released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center.

Europeans were most alarmed by climate change, with 54% of people in the U.S. labeling it the top threat. The opinion reflected the sharp political differences on the subject in America, with 78% of Democrats and those leaning that way terming it a major threat and only 23% of Republicans saying so.

An AP-NORC poll released in mid-August found that only about half of Americans think their actions affect climate change, a decline from three years ago when two-thirds said that it did. They also reported being less concerned about the effects of climate change on them personally or feeling that they have much personal responsibility to address it.

Inflation was a major threat among 61% of those surveyed, though the polling was done earlier this year before rising prices became such a top concern. Inflation has been a top concern of Americans although recent surveys suggest that the recent reduction in gas prices has led to an improvement in consumer sentiment.

On climate change, the survey found that European attitudes have hardened over the past decade. In the United Kingdom, for example, three-quarters now say climate change is a major threat – up from 48% in 2013.

Europe has seen a slew of abnormal weather in the past few years, with this year’s record heat wave in the U.K., France and Spain as well as severe flooding in many countries.

Optimistically, 64% say that many of the world’s problems can be solved through countries working together while 65% have a favorable view of the U.N. However, people in Israel, Greece and Japan had a more unfavorable view of the global organization.

Concerns about infectious diseases have dropped significantly over the past year, falling nearly 20 points in the U.S. and ranking as the least concerning of global threats in Germany, Canada, the U.K., Australia and South Korea.

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