What marks the start of the festive season for you?
The first appearance of Xmas tat in the supermarkets in late August; the first rendition of Do They Know It's Christmas? on the radio; the first day of Advent; the first moment you realise you've exceeded your credit card limit; the first awkward sexual advance at the office party; the first time the party season catches up with you and you find yourself sitting at work with a hangover that feels like a whirling black vortex of melancholy flavoured with a vicious headache and the unmistakable fragrance of stale mulled wine?
For the Sceptic Tank, Christmas really starts with the first utterly pointless, killjoy media reports detailing the environmental impact of Xmas lights.
Christmas came late this year, with us having to wait until 12 November for The Independent to point out, courtesy of the self-serving survey monkeys at GoCompare, that your average outdoor Xmas light display uses up 22.8 days of the average home's electricity consumption.
Back in 2007, Christmas started on 8 November with the Guardian reporting that "we could fill 15,500 hot air ballons with the carbon dioxide produced by our Christmas lighting". A year earlier it started on 9 November with the Evening Standard faithfully detailing Lib Dem claims that "a mini forest of trees would have to be planted to compensate for the carbon emissions generated by the West End's two miles of festive lights" (ah, those were the days, when the Lib Dems did not have the power to ruin Christmas).
Anyway, by the Sceptic Tank's reckoning, the Christmas season is upon us once again, with the environmental movement's unerring ability to characterise itself as a bunch of joyless, hair-shirted fundamentalists intact for at least another year.
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