kenny hodgart

No belief deserves special status

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The decision this week to allow the former head of sustainability at the property firm Grainger plc to chase the company for unlimited compensation on the grounds that he was made redundant last year due to his “philosophical belief about climate change and the environment”, has greatly ruffled some climate change “warmists”.

On the face of it one would have thought they would be cheered by such an endorsement of their creed and the seething reaction to it of religious people of varying stamps. Their discomfort has arisen, however, from the implication that Tim Nicholson’s “philosophical belief” should be afforded merely the same validity as religious beliefs, which due to the cravenness of our policy-makers have been protected by law for some years. To the chagrin of those who believe anthropogenic global warming (AGW) to be beyond debate, their dogma has finally been categorised for what it is: an evangelical and absolutist faith shot through with misconceived altruism, millenialist visions of catastrophe, and delusions of grandeur.

Mr Nicholson, availing himself of multiple invitations to gloat about Mr Justice Barton’s ruling live on television, said: “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.” Even in the face of mounting grounds for scepticism and the reality that warming isn’t currently happening at all, then, it is not enough that one should acknowledge climate change MAY be afoot or that man-made carbon emissions MAY be a significant factor in the process. No, green activists who subscribe to the notion of “runaway” climate change – and there is no “moderate” position on this – brook no opposition to their views. Theirs is an aggressive secular fundamentalism, one which necessitates the rest of us being cajoled and bullied into mending our ways.

We do not know what will come of Mr Nicholson’s appeal against his sacking. We do not know the circumstances of how it came about. His complaint that the firm’s chief executive, Rupert Dickinson, responded to his concerns about saving the planet with “contempt” tells us only that he had his views gainsaid. The freedom to hold whatever “philosophical beliefs” one happens to find agreeable is cardinal to democracy; but so should we be able, in the name of democratic freedom of speech, to challenge or even disparage beliefs held by others. Where the great and the good on the liberal left, ever in thrall to the misguided ideology of multiculturalism, have erred gravely is in encouraging people with religious views to believe everyone else must respect (“tolerate” is no longer enough) every aspect of their faith and traditions.

The law, of course, offers most protection to those it fears: to the Islamists calling for the enemies of Islam to be “beheaded”, “massacred” and “annihiliated” in the aftermath of the publication of the cartoons of Mohammed got up with a bomb on his head, but not to the counter-demonstrators daft enough to have brandished images of the Prophet. And certainly not to other groups whose views do not chime with the government’s: like the Catholic adoption agencies who were told they must allow same-sex couples to adopt children. But once it was written into the law that adherents of non-secular belief systems automatically qualified for our respect – and that anything less was actionable – it was only a matter of time before others with agendas of their own caught up with the game.

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