ISIS, the Economy and Climate Change Identified as Biggest Threats to the World in Global Pew Poll

Global Threats
Pew Research Center survey measuring perceptions of international challenges released on July 14, 2015. |

A major global poll by Pew Research Center has listed climate change, the economy, and ISIS as the top three greatest threats the world faces today. The Islamic militant group was the top threat identified by respondents both in the United States and Europe.

On a worldwide basis, respondents identified climate change as the top threat in the world today, with the majorities in most countries in both Latin America and Africa noting that they are very concerned about the issue.

"Publics in 19 of 40 nations surveyed cite climate change as their biggest worry, making it the most widespread concern of any issue included in the survey. A median of 61 percent of Latin Americans say they are very concerned about climate change, the highest share of any region," Pew noted.

In Africa, climate change was identified as a great concern, especially in Burkina Faso (79 percent), Uganda (74 percent) and Ghana (71 percent).

Overall, a global median of 46 percent identified climate change as a great concern, followed closely by global economic instability at 43 percent, and ISIS at 41 percent. In fourth and fifth place, respectively, were Iran's nuclear program (31 percent) and cyberattacks on governments, banks, and corporations (30 percent).

Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, released in June a major encyclical dealing with climate change threats, and warned that the issue is impacting all of God's creation, including impoverished people in different corners of the world.

"The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. The Creator does not abandon us; He never forsakes His loving plan or repents of having created us," Francis wrote.

ISIS was identified as the most concerning issue in four out of the six regions surveyed, namely the U.S., Europe, Middle East and Asia/Pacific.

The terror group has captured significant territory across Iraq and Syria as part of its self-proclaimed "Islamic Caliphate," and has threatened both the U.S. and Europe with violent attacks.

"Publics in 14 countries express the greatest concern about ISIS, the militant group seeking to create an Islamic state in Iraq and Syria. In Europe, a median of 70 percent express serious concerns about the threat posed by the growing organization," Pew noted. "Apprehension is greatest in Spain (77 percent), but anxiety about ISIS is high throughout the continent."

As can be expected, the most pressing concern about ISIS is shown in countries neighboring Iraq and Syria, with more than eight-in 10 Lebanese (84 percent) expressing great concern. The country has been taking in a significant number of refugees, putting a strain on its resources.

In the U.S., Iran's nuclear program followed ISIS as the issue most people are concerned about, ahead of cyberattacks, global economic instability, and tensions between Russia and its neighbors. Only a mean of 42 percent identified climate change as a very concerning issue, with territorial disputes between China and its neighbors coming in at last, with 30 percent.

The poll surveyed 45,435 respondents from 40 different countries throughout the period of March 25- May 27.

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