Around the world, people worry about climate change. In fact, it’s seen as a top international threat and concern has “increased significantly” since 2013, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center.
The survey involved interviews with more than 27,000 individuals between May and August 2018 in 26 countries, including Russia, Canada, Argentina, and Nigeria. People in the U.S. are most worried about cyber attacks from other countries; climate change is our third concern after ISIS. However, 13 countries including Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Australia listed climate change as their top concern—and for good reason.
We have about 10 years to rapidly scale down fossil fuel use and limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, or we risk doing irreparable harm to the planet. And people around the world are bearing witness to the different extreme weather events that may become stronger in a warmer world: wild as hell wildfires in Australia, record-breaking heat in Japan, and strong super typhoons in the western Pacific. As the consequences of climate change become more apparent, concern has risen double digits in many countries since 2013, including France, Mexico, the United States, and Germany.
Trailing behind climate change as the next top global threat is ISIS, with eight countries citing the terrorist group as their main worry. That’s a sizable drop from 2017, where ISIS was the top threat in 18 out of 38 countries surveyed, compared with climate change in 13. Next for 2018 on the list of worries came cyberattacks and Russia’s power and influence. And, it turns out, more countries are starting to view the U.S. as a threat than they did several years ago.
But worry about climate change stands out the most, with a median of 67 percent of survey respondents listing it as their top threat last year, compared with 63 percent in 2017 and 56 percent in 2013.
Worry over the climate rises even higher when broken down by political affiliation, gender, or education level. Women are more concerned about climate change than men in seven countries, and more educated people in Europe and North America see higher levels of concern, too. Right-leaning individuals are more skeptical of climate change in Europe and the U.S.
One thing that hasn’t changed is Latin American countries continue to list climate change as their top threat. What can I say? My fellow Latinx know this is nothing to treat lightly. They see it firsthand on their drought-stricken lands and in the murders of environmental activists. If climate change weren’t something worth worrying over, why would people die trying to stop it?