A poll led by the Pew Global Attitudes Project has canvassed more than 48,000 people from all different cultures, religions and nationalities to discover what they believe to be the greatest current threats facing humanity in the 21st century.
People from 44 different countries were given a list of potential threats and asked to name which of these constituted their greatest fears for the human race, answering the question:
"Which one of these poses the greatest threat to the world?"
The list included a variety of horrors that could potentially wipe out the majority of the 7.1 billion inhabitants of planet earth, including nuclear weapons, religious and ethnic hatred, pollution and environmental disasters, economic crisis and disease. The results indicated that people from the same countries often shared the same perceived vision of danger.
In the Middle East, citizens were mostly preoccupied with the results of religious and ethnic hatred, whereas those in the Ukraine, where there is ongoing conflict with Russia, fear that doom could come in the form of a nuclear holocaust.
"Across the nations surveyed, opinions on which of the five dangers is the top threat to the world vary greatly by region and country, and in many places there is no clear consensus," the report concluded."With growing conflicts engulfing the Middle East, people in the region name religious and ethnic hatred most frequently as the greatest threat to the world.
"Moreover, publics across the globe see the threat of religious and ethnic violence as a growing threat to the world’s future."
In China, where the explosion of industry in recent years has identified the country as the largest producer of carbon emissions in the world, the majority of people suggested that pollution and the environment were the biggest threats to our continued survival. Not surprisingly, disease was uppermost in the minds of those in Africa, where Ebola is a clear and present danger that continues to decimate the population at an alarming rate. In highly developed countries, where the disparity between the rich and poor is most pronounced, there was a fear that this inequality would continue to widen until it became untenable.
Global warming, meteor strike, disease, destruction of infrastructure due to solar flares, the threats to the survival of our relatively fragile species seem endless, and yet we continue to prevail via a combination of evolution, innovation, and sheer luck. Given that recent evidence suggests that the global collective can influence results, is the threat with the most conscious weight of thought behind it likely to create the most likely outcome?
Perhaps, instead of focusing on the greatest threat, could we begin to focus our energies onto a course of action that is most likely to save humanity?
What do you think is the greatest threat to the survival of our species at this point in our history?
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