Surveyors from the Pew Research Center asked thousands of participants in more than 40 countries to select what posed the “greatest threat to the world” out of five possible options. The results, published last week, showed that their answers were far from unanimous.
In general, the study suggests that global security risks are viewed through a regional or national prism. Rather than being afraid of the unknown, people generally chose the threats closest to home. Those surveyed in western Europe, for instance, mostly agreed that inequality poses the greatest threat out of the possible options of inequality; nuclear weapons; ethnic and religious hatred; pollution and environment; and AIDS and infectious diseases.
The report is especially grim for children. “It’s a tragedy. Our report found that an equally large, if not larger, disadvantage exists among younger Americans,” Woolf says. “I don’t think most parents know that, on average, infants, children, and adolescents in the US die younger and have greater rates of illness and injury than youth in other countries.” The committee is calling for national attention to this matter. “The committee highlighted the need for a national debate on this important, yet not well known, issue. In addition to noting some important research needs, the committee urged redoubled efforts to use the knowledge we already have to address many of the health problems involved through proven intervention and policy strategies,” Diez-Roux says. “It is also important to gain understanding of various policy initiatives that have been used in other countries, and consider their applicability to the United States.”