THERE’s some debate as to the effectiveness of last week’s Extinction Rebellion protests.

The demonstrations brought various places to a standstill, as anybody reading this who had business in Bristol will be only too aware.

As the ongoing knackering of the environment is a bigger long-term threat to the future of the human race than any war or economic crisis, it’s crucial that leaders of environmentalist movements win the support of millions if not billions of people.

If they don’t, it’s only a matter of time before we all snuff it - which will be rather sad but at least give the world a few million years to recover before the next advanced civilisation evolves from ants or octopi or whatever.

Anyway, in order to make sure the message is getting across, I suggest those in charge of getting it across take a public poll after every protest. Nothing complicated, just a question or two along the lines of: “What did you make of the protest? Do you feel we got our message across clearly, and in a way likely to attract your support?”

I’m no expert in these matters, but were I a climate demonstration activist, the sort of responses I’d be looking for might include:

“The demonstration was exactly what I needed to remind me of the terrible things we’re doing to the planet, and inspired me to find out more about what I can do to make a meaningful change.”

“The demonstration reminded me of my power as a consumer to speak to the environment-wrecking corporations in the only way they understand or care about - by depriving them of my funds, sending share prices into freefall and thereby terrorising the fatcats around the boardroom table.”

“Thanks to the demonstration, I am much more informed than I was before, and now have the confidence to demand that my local and national politicians do something about the crisis, and if they can’t or won’t I’ll sling them out on their ears at the next election.”

Were I the organiser of a demonstration and gathered a lot of responses along these or similar lines, I’d consider myself to have done rather well.

Of course, there might be other responses I’d find less pleasing:

“I was late to work because of the demonstration and got a load of humiliating abuse from my bullying boss. I really need this job because, like millions of other ordinary people in this country, I’m no more than two missed paydays away from myself and my children ending up on the streets.”

“I couldn’t get to my patients on time, which inevitably means some of them suffered.”

“I’m a small local employer, and the loss of trade made me less likely to be able to retain my staff, let alone take anything like a living wage for myself.”

“If it’s the big corporations who are at fault, why is it always the ordinary people who end up having to suffer?”

“Did you hear about that bloke who couldn’t get to the bedside of his dying father?”

“Why did so many of the ones on the telly sound like the fortunate sons and daughters of the well-to-do? Why do people like that, whether they’re on the right or left, think they have some divine right to tell us what to do - and then tell us it’s for our own good if they hurt us?”

If my feedback from the public contained a significant number of comments along these or similar lines, I’d take that as a cue to have an urgent rethink of my strategy.

I’d consider, for example, selecting my most despised environment-wrecking organisation, assembling proof of its activities, releasing the lot on social media, organising a boycott and wrecking the organisation’s balance sheet, thereby warning other such organisations to mend their ways.

Hurting those who actually deserve it is always the best bet.