Despite U.S. President Barack Obama calling climate change “a serious threat to global security,” the American public does not seem particularly worried about it. A new survey by the Pew Research Center found that climate change and the threats associated with it figure way below the perceived danger from the Islamic State group, Iran’s nuclear program, cyberattacks, global economic stability and tensions with Russia.
In fact, the only global issue that worries Americans less than climate change relates to territorial disputes between China and its neighbors.
According to the study, 42 percent of the people surveyed in the U.S. said they are “very concerned” about climate change, as opposed to 68 percent who expressed fears over the rise of ISIS, and 62 percent who seem worried about Iran’s nuclear program.
“About six-in-ten Democrats are very concerned about climate change, while just 20 percent of Republicans say the same,” the survey found, indicating a sharp political divide between those who believe in climate change and the “climate skeptics.”
The findings of the survey, which is based on interviews with over 45,000 people across 40 countries, came just a day after a British government-commissioned report urged policymakers to take the threat of climate change as seriously as nuclear war.
Of the 40 countries surveyed, majority of the population in 19 nations cited climate change as their biggest worry -- making it the most widespread concern. As expected, people in developing nations that are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change voiced greater concern over climate change.
“A median of 61 percent of Latin Americans say they are very concerned about climate change, the highest share of any region,” the Pew Center said in a statement, accompanying the report. “Sub-Saharan Africans also voice substantial concerns about climate change. A median of 59 percent say they are very concerned, including about half or more in all countries surveyed.”
Additionally, half of the Asian nations surveyed said that climate change was of major concern to them. In India, where over 2,000 people died in a heat wave earlier this year, 73 percent of people said they were “very concerned” about climate change, and in the Philippines, 72 percent of the people surveyed expressed anxiety about the issue.