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Note: Heifer President and CEO Pierre Ferarri authored this post in reaction to the news that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.

Today President Trump announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord.

I believe this to be terrible decision as the U.S. has a moral obligation to play a leading global role in building a low-carbon economy. Every day, we see how climate change challenges the families we work with worldwide — from coffee growers in Honduras to corn farmers in Malawi and families raising goats in Haiti. As they try to feed a growing population, they struggle to adjust to wildly changing weather and face major setbacks with every natural disaster. Continued participation in the Paris Accord and investing in a low-carbon economy are essential, not only to U.S. prosperity, but to ending hunger and poverty worldwide.

A man carries a bad of charcoal on his head in a desertified landscape in Haiti.
The firewood in many parts of Haiti was chopped long ago, and drought and erosion make replanting difficult. People here make charcoal out of the scrubby brush that still grows in the compact, depleted soil. Photo by Lacey West


There are myriad examples of how a changing climate will have, and already is having, a negative impact on the world’s most vulnerable populations. Dramatically changing weather patterns make it harder to meet the most basic of human needs by stressing limited food and water resources. A warming planet makes it easier for infectious diseases like malaria and dengue fever to gain a foothold.

We must act quickly. Global predictions suggest that up to 2 billion people could live in chronic hunger by 2030. How much will that worsen as the climate continues to shift? Hunger is connected to poverty—which is connected to health—which is connected to the environment—and around it goes. The development community can no longer afford to look at solving the world’s most pressing challenges in isolation.

Climate change is real, but it is also actionable. We can effect positive change by recognizing and drawing on the interconnectedness of the key components of climate, agriculture, nutrition, health, and women’s empowerment. The short-term success and long-term sustainability of our work—and our world—depend on it.

A motorcyclist navigates flood conditions after Typhoon Bopha.
The Nahalinan Creek in Santa Josefa in the Philippines changed course after the powerful Typhoon Bopha clogged waterways with debris and logs. The creek now crosses a road, creating headaches for motorcyclists. Climate scientists link climate change with stronger, more frequent storms. Photo by Nacho Hernandez

A woman waters her garden in a dry landscape.
Thioro Dieng waters her onion garden using water from a well. Water is getting harder to come by in the Sahel, as rainfall amounts decline and desertification takes hold. Photo by Phil Davis

Author

Pierre Ferrari

Pierre Ferrari is president and CEO of Heifer International. Pierre is very passionate about empowering the families and communities with whom Heifer works: “It took me decades, but I have come to know that the only way to happiness and joy is to be of service to others.” Pierre’s other joys are his wife, Kim, his two sons and two stepdaughters. In his free time he enjoys golf, squash, reading and travel.

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