DID we already deal with the climate crisis?

I’m only asking because it seems to me, having followed the debates leading up to this election, it mustn’t be much of a problem anymore – at most just an administrative spot of bother, there in policies quietly tucked away in manifestos, to be name-checked and cleared up once all else is sorted.

If it weren’t for Lorna Slater of the Scottish Greens, fiercely arguing that “the time to act is now”, I might have assumed it had almost gone away all together.

The more the pre-election debate has gone on, the more climate and biodiversity loss seem to have faded from view. It’s as if we’ve forgotten, as the focus has honed down more and more on the referendum question, that COP26 just round the corner, as well as an existential threat that dwarfs the pandemic.

Over the course of the series of televised leaders debates, it seems to have slid down the agenda. The first, hosted by the BBC, brought us questions, from young members of the public, on climate and some strong words from Slater. But the most recent, hosted by Channel 4, saw all debate reduced down to a rammy over Union versus Independence. I write this in advance of the final one on BBC on Tuesday night, but I'll be amazed if it bucks the pattern.

Perhaps everyone thinks that since the last Holyrood government set those world-leading emissions targets, it’s all in order? Done and dusted.

Elections are driven by fears and hopes. It’s as if this existential fear for our planet – one that 68 percent of Scots said they saw as an "urgent and immediate" problem in 2019 – has faded from view, pushed into the background and overtaken by other much-discussed fears: the immediacy of Boris Johnson’s Brexit Britain, the pandemic, the worry that Independence might hamper recovery, the very real current fears for jobs and lives.

Humans, we know, are emotionally more affected by present fears, short-term thinkers that we are. But we desperately need, right now, to keep our eye on that future.

I’m not against a referendum, but I am against the only debate in town being whether we have one. One of the most startling statistics to be revealed lately has been that of those intending to vote for the independence-supporting Scottish Green party in their constituency only 43 per cent supported independence. When we focus on a single question, we deny the complexity of people's votes.

READ MORE: SNP and Greens disagree over Indy currency plans in final TV debate

The discussion over whether to take one particular fork in the path – referendum or not – is stopping us from mapping and properly debating a fuller route for direction of travel on climate change. It’s not that the fork doesn’t matter – it could be crucial – but we can spend a long time staring at it.

Meanwhile, the relative absence of climate change and biodiversity loss in current debate suggests we are still a society unwilling to turn towards what we are going to have to do. We are not galvanised.

If there’s a phrase that has been woefully missing from this election – one which I kept looking for, but found confined mostly to Scottish Greens and Liberal Democrats – it was “green recovery”. It seems to me that every party should have this in their vocabulary. Green recovery should be on everyone’s lips, wherever we are in the world.