Keynote Speaker: Ivan Fernandez

Topic: The End of Climate Change: What Do We Tell the Kids Now!


Despite the compelling and irrefutable trends in atmospheric chemistry, and increased evidence of a changing environment as it relates to climate, little leadership has been shown by the US to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Changes in the political landscape over the most recent few years have resulted in a loss of momentum on policy initiatives to address climate change on the national and state level. Yet evidence mounts for a changing environment with consequences across essentially all sectors of our natural resource-based economy in Maine. There is no turning back on some level of climate change given the altered atmospheric chemistry already in place. Uncertainty in the weather, perhaps beyond warming itself, is likely to have the greatest economic consequence particularly in sectors like agriculture. Climate change is no longer an environmental issue; it simply defines our planet henceforth. And no longer can we be content to focus just on mitigation, but we need to actively engage in both mitigation and adaptation to minimize the negative consequences and maximize opportunities where they exist. Since we can no longer fully correct the problem, we need to offer the generations to follow a plan to thrive. Ignoring and adapting is not the same thing.

About Ivan Fernandez

Ivan J. Fernandez is Professor in the School of Forest Resources, Climate Change Institute, and Department of Plant, Soil and Environmental Sciences at the University of Maine. He does research and teaches in the areas of soil science, environmental science, and biogeochemistry. He earned his B.A. from Hartwick College and his M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Maine. Following his graduate studies, he worked in New York for the National Council of the Paper Industry for Air and Stream Improvement as a Research Forester. He returned to the University of Maine as a faculty member in forest soils and as part of the Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station and has held that position for 30 years. He was made a Distinguished Maine Professor in 2007, CASE/Carnegie in Washington DC named him Professor of the Year for Maine in 2008, and was named a Fellow in the Soil Science Society of America in 2010 among other awards.  He served for a decade as a department chair, held leadership positions in the Soil Science Society of America, has served on the Maine Board of Certification for Geologists and Soil Sciences for two decades. He has served on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Science Advisory Board committees in Washington DC since 1990. His most recent duty has been as a member of the Advisory Council on Clean Air Compliance and chair of the Ecological Effects Subcommittee, charged with aspects of Clean Air Act assessment. His program focuses on the biogeochemistry of forested ecosystems studying responses to forest management, air pollution, and climate change with over 160 scientific papers, books and book chapters to date.  He has been a lead scientist in several long-term forest ecosystem research programs including the Howland Research Forest, the Bear Brook Watershed in Maine, and the Acadia National Park watershed studies. He was recently co-leader of Maine’s Climate Future, a climate change effects assessment for Maine, and continues to be involved in Maine climate change adaptation efforts. He also continues to do research on forest biogeochemistry and ecosystem responses to intensive management and climate change.