Fuel shortages, Famine, Disease, Extinction, Floods, Drought…So this is ‘Earth Day’. Hardly something to look forward to is it?

At CABI, we work tirelessly under the assumption that most people we’re likely to come across believe that ‘saving the planet’ is a Good Thing. But what are we really trying to save? Are we saving the planet for later? Are we trying to preserve it the way it is? Are we in the western, economically privileged world trying to preserve our world the way it is at the expense of the struggling populations suffering malnutrition and disease at the hands of climate change that we ourselves have helped create?

In our numerous and regular inter-office discussions about ‘the environment’, my limited research has uncovered a number of possible motivations for ‘being green’.

Some of my immediate colleagues at CABI are particularly interested in nature, hence an inordinate amount of time could be spent here in semirural Oxfordshire staring out of the window looking at red kites, overweight squirrels and the like. The natural world, both in its immediate and remote forms is quite a strong motivating force in the office microclimate. Preserving the biodiversity of the planet is another motivation that seems to crop up.

These are quite strong motivational forces affecting people’s behaviour in terms of activities that might be considered ‘green’; and I haven’t even surveyed the team responsible for the forthcoming ‘Environmental Impact’ database-based product; many of whom are my fellow Handpicked bloggers and all of whom have environmental credentials far superior to my own. However, a quick survey of their source material for Environmental Impact (ie CAB Abstracts), reveals a huge and often conflicting body of information on human attitudes and behaviour in response to all sorts of things, including one of my own pet motivators, economics. This will surely open the floodgates to even more lively and open debate that won’t end as the sun sets on Earth Day.

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