Climate change, infectious disease seen as major threats: survey

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Climate change and the spread of infectious disease are seen as the top threats by the majority of people in 14 economically advanced nations surveyed by the Pew Research Center.

In similar surveys conducted by the Washington-based center in 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2018, the chief threats were seen as climate change and terrorism.

For the latest survey, published on Wednesday, Pew questioned 14,276 adults living in Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, South Korea, Sweden and the United States between June 10 and August 3.

"In a year when the COVID-19 pandemic has dominated news headlines around the world, it is perhaps unsurprising to discover that majorities in 14 countries surveyed this past summer see the spread of infectious disease as a major to their countries," the authors of the survey said.

A median percentage of 70 percent cited climate change as a major threat to their countries, followed by the spread of infectious diseases with 69 percent, terrorism (66 percent), cyberattacks from other countries (65 percent) and the spread of nuclear weapons (61 percent).

Other major threats cited included the condition of the and global poverty.

"In terms of relative rankings, climate change outpaces or ties infectious disease as the most frequently mentioned 'major threat' in eight of 14 countries polled," Pew said, including seven of the nine European countries surveyed.

In the European nations, "climate change remains the topmost perceived threat, even as people there also express grave concern about the risks posed by infectious disease."

In the United States, climate change was most commonly cited first as a major threat followed by cyberattacks from other countries, terrorism, the spread of nuclear weapons and .

In two countries, Australia and Denmark, cyberattacks were most commonly cited as the major threat.

"With the global economy hard hit by COVID-19 related disruptions, concerns about the global economy have increased substantially in most of the countries since the question was last asked in 2018," Pew said.

"Majorities in 10 of the 14 countries polled describe the condition of the global economy as a major threat."

This view was particularly pronounced in Britain, where 65 percent cited the world's economic situation as a major threat, up from 41 percent two years ago, Japan (74 percent, up from 52 percent) and France (67 percent, up from 46 percent).

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