WEREN’T you just horrified by the scattering of assorted stuff on the hallowed turf of Wimbledon this week by Just Stop Oil protesters?

Or, like me, did you want to throw the radio out the window when broadcasters rabbited on about the need to protect major sports and other events from the actions of the anti-fossil-fuel brigade?

There followed earnest discussions about increased security and penalties for the disruptors. Nobody seemed remotely ­concerned about the horrendous disruption already apparent thanks to global warming and the destruction of our planet.

Precisely the same debates raged when people threw orange powder on the snooker tables of the World Championships. I mean, c’mon! What could matter more than them?

And gawd help any poor sowel who takes on the mighty MCC during the Ashes. I mean if the blazerati with their strippet red and yellow ties can badmouth international visiting sportsmen, what might they not do to anyone defacing the hallowed wicket?

It’s not many months since dozens of ­families in eastern Australia and ­California lost their entire homes and every ­treasured possession as wild fires exacerbated by ­climate change raged through entire ­communities.

READ MORE: BBC to investigate claims presenter paid teen for explicit photos

And right now essential crops and ­livelihoods all over Africa and elsewhere are being destroyed by searing heat and ­serial droughts.

Last week, thousands of fish were found dead in overheated UK waterways. Last winter, floods devastated parts of northern England and left the erstwhile inhabitants homeless and hopeless.

Climate change, in short, is not some ­passing phenomenon only affecting far off lands and faraway people. It must be 20 years since I heard my first lecture on the subject from someone who insisted that we have to cut carbon emissions or live with the devastating consequences of more global warming.

Do you remember that posse of ­people in Greenland who solemnly erected a ­memorial plaque to what had once been a massive ­glacier; now no more?

Have you watched footage of Arctic ice floes melting and breaking up, leaving the ­animal inhabitants with nowhere to land and breed? And did you see 20-year-old, now legendary activist Greta Thunberg being escorted from a demonstration in her native Sweden for refusing to obey the local cops?

She and her generation are the ones who will have to pick up the tab for our ­shocking inability to recognise and act on the existential threat to threat to earth. (As they are wont to say, “there is no ­planet B!”) Arresting them will not halt the ­carnage ­already lapping round our doors.

Last weekend, it emerged that some of the people posing as serious climate-change lobbyists were performing that ­actual function for the fossil-fuel industry.

The National: Climate activist Greta ThunbergClimate activist Greta Thunberg

Their job is made so much easier by the fact that the bosses of these companies are able to hoover up hours of air time ­warning about the need to keep pumping oil and gas. Think what would happen if we ran out of energy before renewables and carbon capture were up and running as adequate replacements, they intone as one.

Aye, fine guys. And think what would happen if we let you have your own sweet way for another few decades while the world hurtles hellwards in a pedal -powered handcart.

But while the prophets of fossil ­fuels’ ­unfettered profits continue to enjoy the freedom to protect their lucrative ­industry, the protesters find themselves ever more hemmed in by the Government accruing new powers to restrict their ­activities.

While the new and draconian ­Public ­Order Act is only applicable (for the ­moment) in England, it builds on last year’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, both of which have hugely ­limited activities like slowing traffic or ­being “too noisy”.

Police Scotland would be well ­advised not to attempt imposing similar ­restrictions on the right to protest which is the bedrock of any non-authoritarian society. ­Watching news footage of last week’s royal folderols in the Scottish capital (could there have been a dressing-up box left unmolested) it was good to see the republican banner ­wavers able to make their point.

Yet we later learned that only two of the eight arrested had been actually charged, having apparently used the crash barriers for high-hurdle practice.

READ MORE: Petition calls for Ruth Davidson to be removed from SRU board

You could hear the tut-tutting from the doucer parts of Edinburgh all over the country, as they fretted that the monarch might be even slightly discombobulated by raucous cries of Not My King, which, amazingly, survived on to the public ­airwaves despite the best efforts of the ­pipers.

Yet we have to be ever vigilant to prevent the increasing expansion of police powers in England from being adopted here, or even influencing the behaviour of our own force. Or, for that matter, scaring off those who might otherwise have lent their voice to a public protest.

Recall that poor soul in Moscow, marched off between two riot police, for holding up a blank piece of paper. ­Apparently the police were able to ­jalouse what they might have written if ­sufficiently emboldened.

The latest Public Order Act in England has gone a long way down that Russian road. “Causing serious disruption to the life of the community” is an alarmingly elastic term, which can be interpreted as it being unacceptable to interfere with ­commuter traffic.

As for protests being judged more noisy than necessary, what possible effect would a posse of whisperers have on the public’s understanding of any important issue?

Like a million others, I marched against the Iraq war. It was noisy, and untidy, and ultimately failed to make the then ­government avoid a catastrophic error of judgement for which so many countries are still paying the price.

Yet the point is that all over the UK these marches took place unimpeded. And I have personal knowledge of a large ­number of entirely law abiding, politically agnostic folk, who felt motivated by the sheer scale of the impending disaster to put on their stoutest footwear and take to their streets.

The National: Just Stop Oil protesters after throwing a tin of soup over a Van Gogh paintingJust Stop Oil protesters after throwing a tin of soup over a Van Gogh painting

It seems for some folk, getting to their place of work on time is vastly more ­important than trying to stop your ­government becoming Putinesque tribute acts.

You can well understand the utter frustration of someone trying to get an ambulance through a protest, which might result in an avoidable personal tragedy. But surely this must be set against the global tragedy of meekly accepting that the industrial status quo must remain beyond reproach.

There is something else at stake here, and that is the relationship between the police and those whom they are there to serve and protect. A series of high-profile cases within the Met have already badly damaged that fragile consensus between the police and the policed. The new ­commissioner seems to have taken that on board; he will be judged on the results of his early pronouncements.

Meanwhile, our own outgoing police chief has made devastating claims about his own force being “institutionally racist and discriminatory” and that prejudice and bad behaviour was “rightly of great concern and is utterly condemned”.

That statement, issued as he nears the exit, would profoundly depress some of his troops, but also, sadly, not surprise some of those who see in elements of the modern force an attraction to the exercise of power over individuals.

It’s easy to underestimate the level of hazard that the police have to embrace on a daily basis, but it’s also only ­honest to recognise that the unspoken pact ­between them and those they promise to protect is both valuable and vulnerable.

So let’s not go down the Public Order Act route; an open invitation for the wrong sort of people to join the force, and the wrong sort of people to face arrest for doing no more than exercising their basic rights.