A fired official believes climate change is equivalent to a religious belief. Who could disagree?
The case of fired British “sustainability official” Tim Nicholson has attracted much interest. That’s because Mr. Nicholson is pursuing redress from his former employer, home developer Grainger plc, under the UK’s Employment Equality (Religion and Belief) Regulations of 2003. He claims he was fired for his convictions about catastrophic man-made climate change.
Horrified commentators on both left and right have suggested that environmentalism will now be established as a religion. Environmentalists are none too keen on this notion, true though it may be, because it undermines their assertion that their case is based on pure science (which is Mr. Nicholson’s position). Business supporters suggest that a victory by Mr. Nicholson will force the cost of quasi-religious green irrationality onto the bottom line.
Mr. Nicholson seems to have been one of those souls who had a personal environmental epiphany (just like Al Gore) after which he started to lay off meat and travel by fold-up bicycle. He is certainly not outside the green mainstream in eco-renovating his house, trying to buy local produce, and composting his food waste. Above all he fears for “the future of the human race given the failure to reduce carbon emissions on a global scale.” He sought, inevitably, to carry his crusade into the company, but claims that Grainger didn’t like the extent of this commitment, refused to give him the information he needed to do his job, and treated his concerns with “contempt.”
I hope everybody is sitting down, because I’m on Mr. Nicholson’s side.
The overlooked issue here is not irrational Gaian convictions and whether they should be considered as tantamount to religion. They should. The issue is why companies would employ individuals whose job titles specifically indicate that they are agents of a subversive concept.
Sustainable Development, which sprung fully-armed from the fretful socialist head of the UN’s Brundtland Commission, is indeed a religion, and it has a devil: capitalism. It thus seems suicidal for any company to accommodate it, let alone embrace it. It has no workable definition except for the feel good notion of “looking after the future.” It explicitly rejects free markets as leading to resource exhaustion and environmental destruction. As such it is not based on science, much less economics, but on primitive pre-market assumptions, which just happen to be very useful to prospective “global governors.”
A National Post editorial on Monday suggested that workplace anarchy would result if employees could veto their employers on the basis of claiming “This isn’t the way David Suzuki would do it.”
But unfortunately corporations have been moving closer to Generally Accepted Suzuki Principles (GASP) for years.
Radical Australian environmentalist Tim Flannery is a self-confessed, self-appointed high priest of an Earth Goddess he claims needs to be “served.” He also heads the Copenhagen Climate Council, whose members include some of the largest corporations in the world.
Grainger’s website — like those of most corporations — makes a good deal of its environmental stewardship, and all the recycling and re-using it does in the course of its operations. It buys “certified” wood. It works with charities. One of its objectives for 2008/2009 was to identify a “network of sustainability champions ... to develop environmental initiatives.”
But none of this was enough for Mr. Nicholson, who claimed that his employer’s commitment was hypocritical. Above all, his philosophical problems arose over the sin of carbon emissions.
Grainger’s website indicates that it monitors these emissions and wants to minimize its “carbon footprint,” but Mr. Nicholson has outed its executives for driving big cars, and its CEO, Rupert Dickinson, for having his BlackBerry flown to him after he left it at the office. Mr. Nicholson, who refuses to fly, says he was terminated for such “beliefs.” Grainger says he was let go because of the state of the economy. Now it will be up to a tribunal to decide.
The question of the employment implications of Mr. Nicholson’s convictions is a matter for the law. A more intriguing question is: Was Mr. Nicholson an over-the-top sustainability manager? How would one know? Sustainability has no operational definition. It is an open-ended invitation to outside interference in corporate activity, so corporations can hardly complain when it bites them.
The spread of SD, like that of its equally subversive sister concept, “Corporate Social Responsibility,” is yet another indication of companies’ willingness to go with the flow of a public opinion formed by their enemies. They do this in a fit of abstraction, or from hypocrisy, fear, or genuine naivete. After all, who doesn’t want to be responsible and sustainable? But in appointing vice presidents of CSR or SD, they are taking on board champions of an ultimately suicidal thrust. That’s because Climatism is not just a belief system, it is an activist belief system. It demands not merely repentance of carbon sin, but jihad against the emitting infidels.
Grainger’s defence, apart from claiming that Mr. Nicholson was fired for business reasons, was that his position is in fact “political.” It’s that too, but shouldn’t they have noticed that when they hired someone to support the anti-business opiate of the chattering classes?