Archive for February, 2011


Flammable tap water.  Mysterious ailments.  Pits of toxic water.  Fouled air.

Scenes from the documentary “Gasland” are sure to ignite debate as small communities throughout America consider the future of natural gas drilling.

“Gasland” highlights the damage gas drilling has caused across the country, especially when it involves hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.  Commonly called fracking, the process entails breaking rock with a slurry of water, sand and toxic chemicals to release the gas.  Critics say fracking can pollute drinking water and isn’t properly regulated.

The energy industry contends that fracking has been safely used for decades, and says “Gasland” is flawed and more about fear than facts.

A New York Times review called this documentary “maddening,” appealing to those who are “predisposed to distrust big business and the bureaucrats that regulate it.”  (Okay, that means it only appeals to about 99% of the American population.)

Winner of Special Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival and nominee for best documentary at both the Academy Awards and the Oscars…..pick up a copy tonight and decide for yourself who’s telling the truth.

24/02/2011 at 6:30 am Leave a comment

Global Economic Scenarios Ranked

The Canadian economy finished 2010 on a stronger footing than expected, but economists continue to remain on alert, hoping a firm global economic recovery will take hold before the next crisis hits.  Threats from black swan events, such as the BP oil spill that threatened to derail the world’s largest economy last year, can never be predicted — which is just as well.  After all, when it comes to what could happen in 2011, there are already enough major risks on the radar to keep central bankers up at night.  Canadian Business ranks the “biggies” here.

22/02/2011 at 6:30 am Leave a comment

The Cost of Cotton Explained

Yet another great article in this month’s edition of Textile Insight.  “Finding Order and the New Normal in a Chaotic Marketplace – The Cost of Cotton”, written by Textile Executive Karla Magruder, explains the factors behind the astronomical cotton prices we’re seeing today.

Click here and flip to pages 39 thru 40 to learn more about what’s behind the price hike.

17/02/2011 at 6:30 am Leave a comment

The Future of BioEnergy

The nation’s first, full-scale, commerical bioenergy facility broke ground in Florida last week, marking one giant leap for making commercial fuel-grade ethanol available at every gas station nationwide.

The $130 million Indian River BioEnergy Centre in Vero Beach, Florida aims to consume 150 000 tonnes of waste material which in turn will produce eight million gallons of bioethanol each year and six megawatts of renewable power using local yard, vegetative and household wastes.

INEOS Bio of Lisle, Illinois  is behind the technology for the facility, while New Planet Energy is building and operating it.

This project is part of the ongoing effort to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, spur the creation of the domestic biorefining industry and provide new clean tech jobs throughout the country.

The companies received a $2.5 million grant from the State of Florida for the project, as well as a $50 million grant from the U.S. Dept. of Energy in 2009.  It also received a conditional commitment for a $75 million loan from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.

The plant should be operational in the first quarter of 2012 and making product later that summer.

15/02/2011 at 6:30 am Leave a comment

The Price of Everything

The Price of Everything, a book by Eduardo Porter is about finding the true value of things that don’t exactly have a price tag.

The book has an observational stance and different points of view are presented.  It’s up to the readers to make up their own mind about what’s really valuable and what’s not.  This is the whole point of the book, the fact that personal perspective plays a big role in decision making and cost/benefit analysis.

Porter is interested in more than factoids.  Most of his attention is devoted to teasing out the rationale underlying the “cold accounting” that determines the value of things people think are priceless, like human life and national security.  What he relates has unmistakable urgency.  How much should we spend today to address environmental problems that may be more cheaply tackled by future generations, especially given the number of development projects that clamor for financing now?  Should we even attempt to protect against risks that would be more costly to prevent than the damage they would cause?

At a time of seemingly proliferating risks, Porter’s searching book is a welcome reminder of the necessity of prudent decision making.  “The truth is,” he writes, “we can’t afford it all.”

10/02/2011 at 6:30 am 33 comments

Coming to Grips with Climate Change

As the international community tries to come to grips with climate change, the difficulties of reaching agreement on the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide are becoming ever more apparent.

One sticking point involves the relative contribution of First and Third World countries to global warming.  Developing nations have contended that industrialized countries caused climate change and ought to bear the brunt of CO2 regulation.

The West points at exponential growth in China and India as a reason that regulation of carbon emissions must apply across the board.  For atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to stabilize, this chart clearly shows, the world’s major emitters – China, the U.S., India, Japan, Russia and the European Union, among others — will have to reduce their carbon footprints.  At the same time, it’s clear there is plenty of room for other, smaller countries to reduce their per capita contributions to a problem that threatens all.

08/02/2011 at 6:30 am 1 comment

Apparel Costs Rising and It’s Not Just Cotton

The Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, a major American trade show, wrapped up on Sunday, January 23rd.  Participants included prestigious retailers from the outdoor sports sector and manufacturers including RadiciGroup, who presented a seminar titled “Apparel Costs Rising: And It’s Not Just Cotton”. 

“What is happening now to cotton has inevitable repercussions on all the other natural and synthetic fibres.  But what is going on with this product?  A reduction in cotton cultivated areas and poor harvests due to adverse climate conditions have decreased supply, while market demand for the product, particularly in Asia, is experiencing strong growth.  The result has been a huge price surge (a 136% increase over 12 months was recorded).  To this, we must add that cotton-producing countries have shifted their focus to value-added products and are trying to export semi-finished (yarn) or finished goods (fabrics), thus penalizing cotton processing countries”, organizers said.

The raw materials price rise is said to be having an effect on all finished products worldwide, from cotton to wool and man-made fibres, with an inevitable, strong impact on the entire textile and apparel industry.  These issues were discussed by Mike Todaro – Managing Director of AAPN,   Kurt Cavano – CEO of Tradecard, Randy Harward – Sr. Director of Quality and R&D of Patagonia, Rick Horwitch – VP Solutions Business Development & Marketing of Bureau Veritas, Kim Hall – Marketing Manager of Radici Group and several other leaders in the textile and manufacturing industry.

“After participating last December 7 in the first Virtual Design Center LIVE, a virtual interactive seminar produced by US Outdoor Retailer,” Kim Hall said, “we wanted to bring our experience and present our point of view at the seminar, Apparel Costs Rising:  And It’s Not Just Cotton.  It was a very interesting meeting of ideas.  On our part, we discussed the aspects related to the rising costs of raw materials and the consequent increase in manufacturing costs for man-made fibres, from spandex to polyester and nylon.”

“Other non-apparel markets can pay a higher premium for their component raw materials because their final products command a higher price and, therefore, increased margins.  In our case, since we are not able to recoup the raw material price increases but want to remain a stable and reliable supplier, we must inevitably pass along such price increases.  Retail needs to understand that.”

As many large retail chains continue to report losses and consumers hold their wallets ever so tight, we have to ask ourselves this question….will retail understand?

We need to consider alternatives to the fibre crisis we are facing.  Cotton, wool and man-made fibres will continue to rise and we will need to seek out cost-effective options.  Click here to learn more about economically viable alternatives to what we once considered “The Fabric of Our Lives“.

03/02/2011 at 6:30 am Leave a comment

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