The Global Challenges Foundation asked ComRes to conduct a survey of the world’s attitudes to global risks and found that a majority of people are concerned with the possibility of catastrophic risk from climate change.
ComRes conducted the survey on behalf of the Global Challenges Foundation, interviewing more than 8,000 people across 8 different countries — Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, India, South Africa, the UK, and the US. The survey asked respondents to gauge their perceived level of security as compared to two years ago in regards to global risks that might affect 10% of the global population — a total of 61% said they felt more insecure, while only 18% said they felt more secure.
The survey then went on to dig into some specific catastrophes that must have really livened up the place after the interviewers hung up the phone. Respondents were asked to agree or disagree with whether the following could be considered a global catastrophic risk:
- Other large-scale environmental damage, such as water, air, and land pollution
- Politically motivated violence and conflict escalating into war
- Climate change, resulting in environmental damage, such as rising sea levels or melting of icecaps
- Usage of weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons)
- Population growth
- Natural epidemics and pandemics, such as the Zika virus or the Ebola virus
- The risk of Artificial Intelligence, that could gain superhuman knowledge and make independent decisions which might become threats to humanity
I’m fairly certain ComRes was just trying to freak people out with that last one. (By the by, a total of 53% agreed to some degree that AI could be a threat. Lots of smart people there.)
For our interests here at CleanTechnica, 48% of respondents strongly agreed that climate change was worthy of being considered a global catastrophic risk, and 36% of people tended to agree — only 14% of respondents disagreed to some degree with the idea.
The report breaks down the responses to each question by country, as well, and it’s sort of interesting to look and see just which countries are more or less concerned. Across the board concern was relatively high — with Australians and Americans both the most relatively apathetic about it, registering agreement of 75% and 74% respectively. Conversely, 91% of respondents from Brazil and South Africa agreed that climate change should be considered a risk, followed by India with 90%, China with 86%, Germany with 85%, and the UK with 80%.