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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 Shining Arcanine on 11/5/2009 5:32:08 PM , Rating: 2
Someone should fly over to him to complain to him about his case, telling him that they would not have taken the flight if they had not filed it. I wonder what he would do.


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