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Survey: IS and Climate Change Identified as Top Global Threats

FILE - An Adelie penguin stands atop a block of melting ice near the French station at Dumont díUrville in East Antarctica.

People identify so-called Islamic State (IS) and climate change as the most pressing global threats of 2017, according to a Pew Research Center survey published Tuesday.

The survey asked people in 38 countries about eight possible threats — IS, climate change, cyberattacks, the global economy, and the Syrian and Iraqi refugee crisis — as well as U.S., Russian or Chinese power and influence.

IS and climate change are identified as major threats by about 60 percent of those surveyed.

Pew said IS was named the top threat in 18 countries, most of them concentrated in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia — places that have experienced frequent terror attacks in the past year.

Climate change is identified as the leading threat in 13 countries, many from Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. In Europe and Asia climate change is widely viewed as the second most pressing global threat.

In the United States, only 56 percent see climate change as a major issue, according to the poll.

Pew identifies a stark ideological divide in the U.S. on climate change, with 86 percent of liberals seeing it as a major threat versus only 31 percent of conservatives saying so. A similar right-left divide also exists in Canada, the Netherlands, Britain, Sweden, and Germany, although not to the same degree.

FILE - A hooded man holds a laptop computer as blue screen with an exclamation mark is projected on him in this illustration picture taken on May 13, 2017.
FILE - A hooded man holds a laptop computer as blue screen with an exclamation mark is projected on him in this illustration picture taken on May 13, 2017.

Cyberattacks and the condition of the global economy are also identified as major threats to national security by 51 percent of those surveyed.

In Spain and Greece, countries long mired in economic crises, 72 and 88 percent of respondents identify the global economy as a major threat to national security.

Widespread concerns over cyberattacks from other countries are mainly clustered in countries like the U.S., Japan, Germany, and Britain where large cyberattacks have taken place in recent months.

In the U.S., 47 percent of respondents list Russia as a major threat over concerns that Russia interfered in the America's 2016 presidential election linger.

Meanwhile, the poll shows a surge in global concerns about U.S. power. About 38 percent see the U.S. as a threat to global security, up from only 25 percent in 2013 — the last time a similar survey was conducted by Pew.

In Turkey, 72 percent of respondents list the U.S. as a major threat. Turkey has accused U.S. based cleric Fethullah Gulen of orchestrating last year's failed coup, allegations that Gulen has denied.

China's power and influence is rated the top concern in South Korea and Vietnam, and concerns about Russian aggression are highest in Poland.

The report notes, however, that global concerns about Russia, China, and the U.S. remain far lower than the other five threats.

"It's worth noting that worries about all three countries trail concerns about other tested threats," the report said. "People are much more likely to feel threatened by ISIS and climate change, in particular, but also by the condition of the global economy, cyberattacks and refugees from countries like Iraq and Syria."