November 2 News: Levi Strauss Worries Climate Change and Water Shortages Threatens the Jeans Business

Other stories below: India Solar Power Costs Could Fall 40% by 2015; BP Takes Center Stage on Capitol Hill

Jim Wilson/New York Times

Stone Washed Blue Jeans (Minus the Washed)

From the cotton field in rural India to the local rag bin, a typical pair of blue jeans consumes 919 gallons of water during its life cycle, Levi Strauss & Company says, or enough to fill about 15 spa-size bathtubs. That includes the water that goes into irrigating the cotton crop, stitching the jeans together and washing them scores of times at home.

The company wants to reduce that number any way it can, and not just to project environmental responsibility. It fears that water shortages caused by climate change may jeopardize the company’s very existence in the coming decades by making cotton too expensive or scarce.

So to protect its bottom line, Levi Strauss has helped underwrite and champion a nonprofit program that teaches farmers in India, Pakistan, Brazil and West and Central Africa the latest irrigation and rainwater-capture techniques.  It has introduced a brand featuring stone-washed denim smoothed with rocks but no water. It is sewing tags into all of its jeans urging customers to wash less and use only cold water.

JR:  Ironically, the place where cotton is most at risk today from a changing climate is Texas.


EU Faces Looming ICAO Protest at Planned CO2 Curbs on Airlines

The European Union pledged to impose carbon curbs on flights to and from the region’s airports as of next year in the face of protests from non-EU nations including Russia and the U.S., which plan to lodge a formal complaint today.

“We won’t modify our plans,” Isaac Valero-Ladron, climate spokesman for the European Commission, the bloc’s regulatory arm in Brussels, said by e-mail.

China, Russia and the U.S. will urge Europe to exempt non- EU airlines from its emissions trading system at today’s meeting of the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization’s governing council in Montreal, Canada. The rift highlights the challenge of forging a global agreement to put a price on carbon just four weeks before a United Nations summit on post-2012 climate-protection rules.

The EU, which wants to lead the battle against climate change, decided in 2008 that aviation should become a part of its cap-and-trade carbon program after airline discharges in Europe doubled over two decades. Carriers including American Airlines and Continental Airlines are already challenging the law in an EU court, and China’s airline association said earlier this year the European initiative may prompt trade conflict.

India solar power costs could fall by 40 percent by 2015

India’s solar power costs could fall by more than 40 percent by 2015, allowing the industry to compete against domestic oil and gas firms without the help of state subsidies, the head of Lanco Solar told Reuters on Wednesday.

Solar technology could provide a kilowatt hour of power at about 7 to 8 rupees a unit in the next few years, down from the current 11 to 12 rupees, due to surging global capacity, said Lanco Solar CEO V. Saibaba.

That would enable solar power to become a more viable option to coal, which costs around 2 rupees a unit, in fueling Asia’s third largest economy and the world’s third-worst carbon polluter.

“The most important thing is the economics of scale are coming,” Saibaba said on the sidelines of an industry conference. “In the next three to four years, I see the solar power costs coming down to 7 to 8 rupees a unit.”

Conservative Group Going Up With Ads Attacking Obama Over Solyndra

A D.C.-based political advocacy group that backs Republican causes says it’s launching a multi-media campaign Wednesday demanding that the White House provide “real answers” over the administration’s decision to issue federal loan guarantees in 2010 to Solyndra, a solar energy company that has since filed for bankruptcy.

The organization, Americans for Prosperity, says it will start running a 60 second television commercial that accuses the president of “risking billions of taxpayer dollars to help his political donors.”

The spot, which the group says it will spend $2.4 million to run over the next two weeks in the battleground states of Florida, Michigan, New Mexico and Virginia (with the possibility of expanding to Nevada), ends with the narrator urging voters to “tell President Obama that you shouldn’t use taxpayer dollars for political favors.”

Americans for Prosperity, which supports many tea party movement causes and which also pushes for reducing government regulation in the oil and gas industries, was co-founded by industrialists Charles and David Koch. The Koch brothers are major supporters of conservative and libertarian causes.

Mitt Romney hit for past emissions stance

Mitt Romney faces an inconvenient truth on climate change.

While the former Massachusetts governor often touts his decision not to sign up for a regional cap-and-trade compact, he also glosses over a six-year-old set of carbon dioxide rules that his aides touted at the time as the first in the country for electric utilities.

Under Romney’s regulations, finalized in September 2006, Massachusetts’s six largest power plants faced mandatory CO2 limits with several market-friendly compliance options designed to help keep the costs down.

Democrats and environmentalists panned Romney’s rules as weak tea. Many felt burned by the governor’s decision not to join then-New York Republican Gov. George Pataki and other neighboring state leaders in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

But Romney’s problem is now on the other side of the political spectrum as critics on his right said they are troubled by a decision to implement the CO2 limits in the first place.

BP spill, drilling risks take center stage

About a year and a half after the BP oil spill devastated much of the Gulf of Mexico, the House will examine offshore drilling and lessons learned from the disaster at three separate hearings Wednesday.

Former Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen, the national incident commander during last year’s spill, will discuss what lessons can be applied to the future of offshore drilling at a hearing of the House Transportation Committee’s Coast Guard subcommittee.

Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft — assistant Coast Guard commandant for marine safety, security and stewardship — and others will also testify at the hearing.

Also Wednesday, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement Director Michael Bromwich will testify before a panel of the House Natural Resources Committee on the risk new offshore drilling in Cuba and other nearby countries poses to the United States.

15 Responses to November 2 News: Levi Strauss Worries Climate Change and Water Shortages Threatens the Jeans Business

  1. Colorado Bob says:

    Wetlands: Drying Intensifying Wildfires, Carbon Release Ninefold, Study Finds

    To determine those effects, the researchers used a unique outdoor laboratory. A large section of a boreal fen near Slave Lake, Alta., had been drained over 20 years ago in a wetland drainage project. A portion of the fen including drained and pristine plots burned in a wildfire in 2001 allowed for a natural experiment.

    Earlier research had documented increases in tree growth and carbon storage after drainage. “But nobody had looked at the impacts of dewatering on fire intensity and associated carbon gains or losses,” Donohue said.

    The results were surprising, he said. Long-term drainage actually increased tree productivity and carbon storage in the fen soils. But the lower water table also changed wildfire conditions, and losses of soil carbon to burning in the drained areas increased ninefold.

    “Even though the organic matter accumulation doubled over two decades after drainage, severe burning triggered the complete loss of this newly stored carbon, plus a further 450 years’ worth of peat accumulation,” Donahue said.

  2. Colorado Bob says:

    Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra warns that there are more than four miles of cracks in flood barriers along the Chao Phraya river which cannot be fixed due to rising flood waters.

  3. Colorado Bob says:

    Coal + Ice is a documentary photography exhibition featuring the work of 30 photographers from China, the United States, Canada, Malaysia, Russia, Hungary, Poland, Norway, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom, whose work, brought together here, visually narrates the hidden chain of actions triggered by mankind’s use of coal.

  4. Colorado Bob says:

    CNN Intl. this morning reporting that in some parts of Oman , a years worth of rain fell in 24 hrs.

    Three more die as heavy rain lashes Oman

    Cyclone Keila –

  5. Colorado Bob says:

    A Fisherman’s Farewell? Gulf Resident’s Fight for Their Future 15 Months After the BP Blowout

    There’s a complete lack of shrimp out there right now. I’ve never seen it like this before. Shrimp with deformities, some with rotten tails, no eyes, smashed faces. I’ve seen some fish that look like they’ve been dipped in battery acid, some with lesions and livers on their outsides. Sharks and porpoises are washing up regularly. Scientists say the killifish—we call them bull minnows—have deformities. It’s just like with Alaska and the Exxon Valdez. The fish that keeps everything in balance goes extinct…none of us know what the hell we will do.

    Mark says he hasn’t been able to catch much shrimp for four months, and now he has no idea how he will make it through the winter. So it was a shock to him and other fishermen when they attended a Mississippi Department of Natural Resources meeting last week and discovered the state was claiming shrimp catches were close to normal. That brought howls of protest from fishermen, and the agency is now investigating. Mark and others believe a lot of those numbers are falsely inflated with imported shrimp brought in from Asia, a battle they’ve been fighting for years.

  6. Colorado Bob says:

    Gulf Shrimp Disappearing
    Shrimpers wonder whether worst season in memory is because of BP spill.

  7. Robert In New Orleans says:

    I think that Levi Strauss has missed the whole point about its product line and the relationship to global warming. As the temperature goes up(especially in the summer), who is going to want to wear (or even need) heavy, dark dyed cotton pants?

    Here in New Orleans, the heat and humidity make jean wearing almost suicidial during the summer months.

    I predict, that within twenty years, the rise in heat will make most if not all dark colored clothing impossible to wear during the summer months.

    And say goodbye to dark colored buildings and residences (at least new construction), roofs, roads, cars and trucks.

  8. Joe Romm says:

    Will have a piece on this later.

  9. Patrick Linsley says:

    They were hit by a real bad cyclone a few years back. Cyclone Gonu in 2007, a cat 5 monster which was the worst that the Arabian Peninsula has seen.

  10. Joan Savage says:

    Got it.

    And the humidity is serious. Snug-fitting clothing was a mess this past summer, even if light-colored.

    Time to look for variations on djellaba, dhoti, sari — standard attire in tropics.

  11. Robert In New Orleans says:


    Have you seen/heard the news about the giant crack opening up on the Pine Island Glacier?

  12. adelady says:

    And if they’re so worried about cotton – why don’t they return to their roots and go for hemp? Or go really modern and use bamboo fibre?

    There are options.

  13. Chris Winter says:

    In Poisoned Legacy, his new book about BP, Mike Magner makes a similar point — that BP and the government are quite sanguine about productivity of the Gulf waters, while fishermen remain worried. He also notes that the worst effects may come years down the line.

  14. Joan Savage says:

    (Reuters) – Shale gas exploration triggered small earthquakes near Blackpool in northwest England earlier this year, UK firm Cuadrilla Resources said, adding to concerns about the safety of a technology that is transforming U.S. energy markets.

    A spokesman said on Wednesday tremors were triggered by pumping vast quantities of water at high pressure 3 kilometres underground through drill holes in a process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which is designed to prop open shale rocks and release trapped gas.

    “It is highly probable that the hydraulic fracturing of Cuadrilla’s Preese Hall-1 well did trigger a number of minor seismic events,” a report commissioned by the company said.

    full article: