IF the SNP/Green Government invented a cure for cancer here’s what would happen: it would manage to mess up the announcement, and unionist parties would say the medicine was poison.

Scotland is locked in a cycle of self-harm when it comes to policy. Nowhere is this more apparent than legislation around the environment.

Unless we want to thrust our own grandchildren into some hellish future, we must move as rapidly toward net zero as possible. That obviously doesn’t mean chucking thousands of workers in old legacy industries like oil and gas on to the scrapheap. It means moving towards life without fossil fuels while retraining workers for alternative employment in new green industries.

That’s the ideal position, right? Protect the environment, safeguard the future, and do so with as much fairness as possible.

Read more: Tory attack on DRS is proxy war to destroy devolution

Yet in Scotland there’s only chaos around environmental policies like the deposit return scheme, highly protected marine areas, phasing out North Sea oil and gas, and even the introduction of Glasgow’s low emission zone. Each one of these policies is desperately needed. But we now put political point scoring, absurd conspiratorial partisan nonsense, and constitutional battles ahead of what’s good for the country, ourselves, and most importantly our children and grandchildren.

Nobody carries full blame for this alone, yet nobody is free from blame either. What we’re seeing is a mix of devolution sabotage by the UK Government, exceptionally poor policy handling by the SNP/Green Government, extremely hypocritical mischief-making by unionist parties, and the flourishing of a dangerous attitude which sees party political interests elevated above country and people. Worst of all is the ingrained short-termism: politicians putting tomorrow’s headlines ahead of what’s best for Scotland.

The DRS is a study in this dysfunction. Is the policy needed? Yes. Have other nations instituted similar policies effectively? Yes. Did the Scottish Government handle the policy well? Absolutely not. Consultation wasn’t good enough, interested parties weren’t brought on board, and the policy wasn’t properly explained to the public. Did the UK Government cause problems? Absolutely. Conservatives were signed up to effectively the same policy in their manifesto. After changing tack, the party received a £20,000 donation from industry lobbyists who criticised the DRS. It’s not a good look. Nor is the Scottish Secretary peddling falsehoods about the project.

Both Andy Burnham, Manchester’s Labour mayor, and Mark Drakeford, Labour’s Welsh First Minister, call out attacks on devolution. It would be good if Anas Sarwar did the same vociferously. On the flip-side, SNP politicians claim there’s no difference between Labour and Tories. An absurd statement. Both positions are designed to score points where none should be scored.

Read more: Alister Jack's Brexit statement is utterly insulting

Scottish Labour and the Scottish LibDems both have DRS manifesto commitments. But all we hear from the two parties is attacks on the policy. If the policy is flawed, then surely engaging constructively to make it work is what’s required? Likewise, both Scottish Labour and the LibDems support marine conservation. However, any positive noises are drowned out by their criticism of the HPMA plans. Maybe temper critique with support where it’s needed?

Performing some environmental prestidigitation isn’t simply a unionist disease. The SNP endlessly mouths off about its ambitious climate targets and the need to get to net zero to save the planet. Yet when Keir Starmer begins discussing a move towards the end of North Sea oil and gas, the Scottish Government’s own net zero secretary, Mairi McAllan, says “simply stopping all future activity is wrong”. That’s the headline which emerges.

Yes, like Labour and the LibDems with DRS and marine conservation, she caveats comments, in this case saying: “We have to ensure a planned and fair transition leaves no-one behind.” But it’s political attack that’s the order of the day. Why not say Starmer is right, and urge him to proceed with caution. Significantly, Starmer is yet to detail his full strategy. However, knocking his idea down seems the priority.

When it comes to the environment the Scottish Government takes two steps forward and one step back. Just look at ScotWind. Rather than founding a green future, it became a fire-sale of national assets. Nor does the party do itself favours by continually harping on the constitution. Nobody believes another referendum is happening any time soon. Yet Humza Yousaf is as relentless in his talk of independence as his predecessor. This may mollify the SNP base, but it does nothing to bring a divided nation together so that good policies can be passed. The SNP seems to wilfully create the enemies required to defeat its own worthwhile ideas.

It’s hard not to see this petty politicking from all sides as just dangerously stupid. This is the future of the planet and humanity that we’re talking about. Imagine a Scotland in which politicians tried to work together, even just some of the time?

When it came to Glasgow’s Low Emission Zone, similar patterns emerged. The LEZ, however, wasn’t subjected to such intense politicking and manipulation as other green policies, as it was a regional rather than national matter. If it had been a nationwide issue, similar chaos would have followed. Yet, when the LEZ came into force, the benefits around cleaner air were immediately apparent. The sky did not fall in.

Read more: Why climate change should be the only story that matters

This sorry state of affairs does the media little good either. Press and broadcasters are embroiled in this cycle of self-harm. We find ourselves fixating on the absurd statements, the hyperbole, the conflict, and often failing to explain to the public what’s happening. We need to do both, yet we appear to focus mostly on the former and forget the latter.

"Stakeholder" is a dreadful word. But when it comes to the environment every stakeholder needs brought into the fold. That’s the Government’s responsibility. The business lobby needs to feel included, as do the green movement, local communities, and citizens. This is too important to leave to petty politicking. We need to rise above the chaos for the greater good.

Warring sides must drop their cudgels. Environmentalists cannot sneer at the fears of business. Business must accept the direction of travel. If we all work together, we can protect our children’s future. What is the point of politics if the Earth is uninhabitable?