Countless initiatives are on the go to reduce greenhouse gases, from reducing the burning of fossil fuels to giving up eating steak. Our favourite whipping boy may be coal-fired power stations, but there is increasing focus on cattle. Such a shift from industrial to pastoral may take you by surprise.

But we are not talking here about people with a few head of cattle kept for milk and, in the case of the Kenyan Masai, blood, but the huge herds that are run by big agricultural businesses: think of the Texas Panhandle and the Argentine pampas for example.

Yes, environmental scientists have put your favourite steak under the microscope.

I can see corded muscles standing out on the neck of every committed beef eater. What the hell is going on? What’s at steak here? No, not a misspelling but a serious look at how much cows pollute the atmosphere and take vast tracts of land that other food production could use more economically.

Are you aware – and do you care – of the resources needed to produce one of man’s favourite foods from a lowly cow?

In the pecking order of meat production, the chicken comes out on top: less food consumed in a far shorter life to the abattoir; less ground needed to peck away at…less energy and less wastage. The pig comes second in the list, the cow a trailing (by a long shot) third.

Holy cow! Are we serious here? What has this all got to do with my steak? you may ask.

In a word, methane, a far more destructive greenhouse gas than comes from burning fossil fuels or running a car- by far.

Methane is twenty-three times more potent than carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels. It appears that the grass they eat is grown quickly and is devoid of nutrition. The grass is not digested easily by the cow and lies in its stomach, producing gastric explosions. Again, it’s big business changing nature to profit from huge herds and fast-growing grass. But surely cows can’t fart anywhere near that amount of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere? Probably not, but when you are trying to slowdown the impact of greenhouse gases on global warming, every little helps.

Is the steak at risk? No, unless there is a massive change in sentiment. Is this all another witch hunt, more smoke and mirrors from the ‘green brigade’?

No, not in my opinion, because there is more at steak here than meets the eyes of any reductionist thinker: it is more than greenhouse gas, more than the chicken and pig against the cow.

In the world of finding holistic solutions to the real socio-economic tsunamis we face, we will have to think more constructively if the future remains in our grasp.

With climate change bringing more extreme weather, for example rising sea levels and flooding is displacing people. Where will these people migrate to? Already, some island states have agreed with their neighbours a mass migration strategy. Kiribati has been prepared for years and owns tracts of land on the Fiji islands. They know their islands cannot survive for much longer, and they have been proactive, with some friendly neighbourliness from the Fijians.

Now, if land is being inefficiently tied up, producing less food and more greenhouse gas, and has bigger tracts of land owned by big business, could that land be shared by displaced people? At this moment, this is clearly fanciful thinking. But in the future, it may be one solution to an ever-increasing problem.