ISIS and Climate Change Leading Security Threats: Global Survey

People around the globe identify ISIS and climate change as the leading threats to national security, according to a new Pew Research Center report based on a survey of thirty-eight countries.

The survey asked about eight possible threats: ISIS, global climate change, cyberattacks, the condition of the global economy, the large number of refugees leaving Iraq and Syria, and the power and influence of the United States, Russia, and China. 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 thirty-eight countries polled.

ISIS is named as the top threat in a total of eighteen countries surveyed – including the United States and others mostly concentrated in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. A substantial number of these countries have endured deadly terrorist attacks claimed by the Islamic militant group. In thirteen 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 percent each. Cyberattacks are the top concern in Japan and second-highest concern in places such as the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom, 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 percent across the thirty-eight 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 United States, Russia, or China as a major threat. America’s influence is a top concern in Turkey. 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.

These are among the major findings of a Pew Research Center survey conducted among 41,953 respondents in thirty-eight countries from 16 February to 8 May 2017. The findings are available here.

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