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Mr Nicholson, 42, from Oxford, smiles after he emerges victorious from the court room. A court ruled that it was wrong for Mr. Nicholson's employer to fire him for his belief in global warming, as it was a philosophy afforded equal protections to religion. Mr. Nicholson refuses to fly for fear of carbon pollution.  (Source: Telegraph UK)
When it comes to climate change, just have a little faith!

In an unusual case in the United Kingdom, it has been ruled that climate change beliefs should be afforded the same legal protections as religious freedoms. The bizarre ruling sets a landmark legal precedent and could have broad implications both in Britain and abroad.

The case began when Tim Nicholson, former head of sustainability at property firm Grainger PLC was laid off in July 2008 for his criticism of management on the basis of climate change beliefs. Mr. Nicholson, who renovated his house to be greener and refuses to fly by air, was upset that Rupert Dickinson, the firm's chief executive, had an employee fly to him in Ireland to deliver his Blackberry.

When Mr. Nicholson began to gripe and express his environmental sentiments, he was later dismissed. He took his former employers to court, contending that the same laws that protect religious freedoms protected his “philosophical belief about climate change and the environment.”

His employers contended that climate change was a scientific, not a religious or philosophical belief, and thus not legally protected. Mr. Nicholson, however, insisted that climate change was a philosophical belief as “philosophy deals with matters that are not capable of scientific proof.” His lawyer, Shah Qureshi, head of employment law at Bindmans LLP, added that to not grant AGW beliefs the same protections as religion would mean “that the more evidence there is to support your views, the less likely it would be for you to enjoy protection against discrimination.”

That theory was put to the test in an unusual court case and in the end Mr. Nicholson prevailed. Justice Michael Burton who delivered the ruling, ironically had used the same logic to hand a victory to climate skeptics over advocates of anthropogenic global warming theory seeking to show school children An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore.  The court, which Justice Burton served on, ruled that the move was a political, not a scientific work, and was unfit for the classroom. 

Mr Nicholson lauded the verdict, stating, “I believe man-made climate change is the most important issue of our time and nothing should stand in the way of diverting this catastrophe. This philosophical belief that is based on scientific evidence has now been given the same protection in law as faith-based religious belief. Belief in man-made climate change is not a new religion, it is a philosophical belief that reflects my moral and ethical values and is underlined by the overwhelming scientific evidence." 

His employers have vowed to appeal the decision. If it stands, however, it could have major legal affects in Britain and beyond. Affording environmental beliefs the same status as religion opens companies to suits from employees complaining about lack of recycling facilities or offering low-carbon travel. It also prevents employers from dismissing employees from their environmental beliefs, even if they seem radical. 

In the U.S., similar protections exist for employment and religion/philosophy. The laws are certainly worded differently, but the British decision could embolden those seeking similar protections in the U.S. At the end of the day, the ruling forces society to be accept and cater to a variety of opinions on climate change and environmentalism, while at the same time making it harder for organizations, particularly government funded ones, to voice views on such topics.

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By vanka on 11/5/2009 11:57:48 AM , Rating: 3
You don't need to be a climatologist to perform good science. Good science only requires a good experiment and strict adherence to the Scientific Method.

Imagine, if you can, the world as it would exist today if Gregor Mendel's research had been ignored all because he was a priest and not a trained scientist. He died in 1884 by the way, and his work was almost completely ignored until 1900. It would be a shame if we ignored good science in other fields all because someone doesn't have the right title.

Excellent point, many people tend to forget that the fathers of most major branches of science were not trained in those branches. I agree that in general "good science" only requires that the researcher(s) faithfully follow the scientific method; but the interpretation of the collected data requires someone who can understand what the data is saying and can formulate a testable hypothesis based on it. With the current trend of scientific research going more in depth in an ever narrower area of expertise, the person who is most qualified/capable of doing this is usually a specialist in that field.

Your example of Gregor Mendel is an excellent example of this. Mendel pioneered the science of genetics with his experiments on pea plants. The greatest barrier to the acceptance of Mendel's theory/conclusion was that neither Mendel nor anyone else at that time were able to grasp how his work with the genetic inheritance of a single physical trait in pea plants applied to the genetic inheritance of all traits in all organisms. Mendel himself believed that his conclusions applied only to certain categories of species or traits. It was not until much later after more specialized research in this area that his research was validated.

but its also foolish to throw away good science just because it wasn't performed by someone with 20 years experience as a climatologist.

This is where things get interesting; how many of the scientists that have jumped on the "New Ice Age" (70's)/"Global Warming" (90's)/"Climate Change" (2000's) bandwagons based on sound research that they performed? How many of them even took the time to at least glance over the research papers (not even asking them to conduct their own research in this area) supporting "Climate Change" to make sure the figures are correct and the conclusions are supported by the data? How much of the "consensus" is based on an organic chemist specializing in alcohols taking the word of an astrophysicist specializing in red dwarfs who took the word of an paleoanthropologist specializing in the study of Australopithecus africanus who had a roommate in college that was studying to be a meteorologist? Should I then trust what they have to say on the subject?

Much of the "consensus" on "Climate Change" in the scientific community is based on individual scientists believing their to be a "consensus" and jumping on the bandwagon. I understand no one is capable of reading every single research paper that is published, but if you're endorsing something that has such far reaching social and economic consequences - you'd better have done your homework. The fact that the scientific community encourages vigorous debate in something as inconsequential to society at large as the rate of mutations in mitochondrial DNA yet debate over anthropogenic climate change is stifled with claims of "consensus" and those who would engage in it are ridiculed, censored, and denied research grants. This leads me to believe that the so called "consensus" is nothing but political and that those in power have a vested interest in not having their "theory" challenged.

By kattanna on 11/5/2009 1:22:21 PM , Rating: 2
very nice post.

one thing it seems that many forget, like you have pointed out, is that in the 70's there was a global consensus of scientists that we were headed for another ice age with global cooling. funny, that didnt happen.

now we hear the same thing with global warming.. which is now climate change. and really now, who can argue that the climate isnt changing, it has since the planet has had one.

but the one thing that is constant is that there is the, in my opinion, false belief WE can actually overpower the earths natural systems enough to effect change. in effect make earths weather system a static non changing thing.

tell me that that is not the height of folly.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher
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