01/18/2013 03:48 pm ET Updated Mar 20, 2013

A Bad Year for the Goats

After my last piece, which was about the varying qualities of cashmere, I received a number of questions along the lines of OK, we understand we have to check the labels to make sure the quality of cashmere is high, but why is cashmere so expensive in the first place?

I explained about the nice goats with the soft hair, and how one goat needs to work seven years to make you one sweater, but that wasn't cutting it. The next question was, why is the price of cashmere going up? And the readers are right -- the price is going up as the demand for cashmere products increases. When I started Red Twist cashmere two years ago, I asked the cashmere producers that question, and the answer I received for the increased price was along the lines of, "the goat is having a bad year."

Let me preface this by saying that I was living in Beijing at the time and these sort of conversations were fairly typical for me. So I had to wonder, what does that really mean? Is the goat not getting enough food, not enough water, not having luck with the lady goats?

I did some investigating, and my research led me to Al Gore. It's climate change that is affecting the goats, and therefore affecting the price of your yummy cashmere sweater. As everyone knows, as the world gets hit with new weather patterns, it will affect the livestock. And the goats are not immune.

China, where half of the world's raw cashmere is produced (and where, it may seem to its residents, half of the world's pollution is produced), has had years of unusually high temperatures (and unusually low temperatures) and drought. The areas where cashmere goats are raised already have severe weather -- a great example is the Gobi desert, which has a climate of extremes -- so if you add climate change to the mix the goats are going to have a bad year.

And if the goats aren't able to survive these climate variants, we will be eventually paying more for our cashmere. Let's hope we can right the earth for many reasons, cashmere among them!