A growing number of people around the world rate environmental problems as the worst threat facing mankind. The findings come as part of the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project, which include the opinions of 45,000 people in 46 countries and the Palestinian territories. VOA's Stephanie Ho reports from Washington.

Pew Research Center president Andrew Kohut says this year's survey found that environmental issues are the top concern for a growing number of people in many parts of the world.

"Shifting from countries and ratings, the one thing that comes through is that more people than in the 2002 survey cite the environment as the top global problem," said Andrew Kohut. "Worries have mattered most sharply in Latin America, Eastern Europe and across the Far East, in China, Japan, South Korea and India, much higher percentages say the top threat to our planet is environmental concerns."

Brazil, Argentina, France and Venezuela saw the biggest increase of between 20 and 30 percent. Other countries registering rising environmental concerns include Peru, Germany, Bulgaria, India, Britain, Japan, Slovakia, the United States, Uganda and Poland.

Kohut said as a result of the growing environmental worries, the United States, which is one of the world's leading polluters, is taking a hit in the world's public opinion.

"And the U.S. is now blamed for hurting the world's environment, more than any other country that was cited in the poll," he said.

In addition to the environment, Kohut said, many people in Africa indicated they also worry about nuclear proliferation, the threat posed by diseases, such as as HIV/AIDS, and the wealth gap between rich and poor nations.

Pew Global Attitudes Project co-chairwoman and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said she is not surprised that more people are taking environmental threats seriously.

"It is basically due to the fact that people are beginning to see the effects of global warming on their own security and their own livelihood," said Madeleine Albright.

She said the rise in global concerns presents the international community with an opportunity for greater cooperation.

"If you look at the threats, environment, nuclear proliferation, disease, terrorism, those are all threats that require cooperation," she said.

Kohut said this is the first batch of data released from the 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Project survey. Other findings will be released later this year.