As environmental concerns push increasingly to the fore of global consciousness, so we've all started taking a much greater responsibility for the effects of our own actions. It's amazing how recently and rapidly this tipping point of public opinion has been reached. Not so long ago people like Prince Charles were being ridiculed as eco-fruitcakes and lunatic obsessives, but not any more. Activities we used to consider as normal, proper and even desirable have suddenly been deemed unacceptable. And not a moment too soon. But with this shift of opinion comes an unwelcome new breed of eco-bully. These self-righteous neo-environmentalists enjoy nothing better than showering accusations on others whose lives they now judge to be anything less than 100% ethical. How dare other people fly/shop/drive/eat/exhale in a globally detrimental manner. And nothing can stop their sanctimonious tirades of smug verbal abuse. Have you been bashed by the Big Green Stick recently?
"We're flying to Australia on holiday next week."
"You selfish uncaring bastards. How dare you fly abroad and see the world when every aeroplane flight hastens the end of civilisation as we know it? I think everyone should be banned from flying abroad purely for pleasure, even if that means our children and grandchildren never travel any further afield than Blackpool or maybe Paris. OK, so, I've already been to the Great Barrier Reef and the Grand Canyon and Rio de Janeiro and the Pyramids myself, but I don't see why anybody else should get the chance."
"We've just bought a brand new car."
"You selfish uncaring bastards. I don't care that you've got four children, you should cram them all into the back of an electric smart vehicle instead, or buy them all bicycles. Do you not realise that every car journey you make hastens the flooding of south east England by a few minutes and causes a small child in Africa to drop dead of carbon monoxide poisoning. And yes I know that I still drive a Landrover myself, but that's because there are a lot of steep hills in Croydon, and Waitrose is too far away to walk."
"We're having a dinner party on Saturday."
"You selfish uncaring bastards. Do you not realise how far the food you'll be serving up has travelled? Those out-of-season courgettes were all grown in South Africa and those sundried tomatoes have been flown in from Mexico. You should serve up a nice simple potato soup instead using spuds dug up from your own garden, maybe with some knobbly home-grown carrots and using milk from your own cow. Just don't expect me to come round for dinner myself, I'm allergic to anything organic so I'm staying in with a microwaved curry."
"We're buying a new fridge."
"You selfish uncaring bastards. How dare you artificially lower the temperature of your food by artificially increasing the temperature of the rest of the world? And I bet that's an import from a developing country too. We should be demanding that these emerging nations forgo industrialisation and economic progress for the greater good of the planet. And yes, I know that I live in a country which has been polluting the atmosphere for the last 200 years and is largely responsible for the ecological mess we find ourselves in today, but we didn't find out until it was too late so I reckon we might as well carry on."
"We're planning a lovely family Christmas."
"You selfish uncaring bastards. Those wholly unnecessary presents you purchase will end up in landfill, those illuminations on your roof will devour the Earth's fossil fuels minute by minute, and those sprouts on your Christmas dinnerplate could punch a hole in the ozone layer all by themselves. Baby Jesus didn't have much of a carbon footprint did he, although yours is the size of a Norwegian pine forest. And yes, I know that I'm planning to party from the start of December until Twelfth Night, but I'll not notice the damage my conspicuous consumption is doing to the planet because I'll be permanently drunk."
"We're expecting twins."
"You selfish uncaring bastards. Not satisfied with polluting the planet with one greedy resource-hungry baby, you're inflicting double the environmental damage on the world. Think of all the nappies they'll use, and all the petrol they'll burn, and all the mobile phone chargers they'll leave on stand-by, and all the carbon dioxide they'll breathe out. And yes, I know I have three children myself, but I'll need them to look after me when I'm older. And anyway, if the rest of you all stop breeding wasteful offspring, my handful of kids have got a great future ahead of them."