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Within the next 50 to 100 years, the support and maintenance of an extended human family of 8 to 11 billion people will be difficult at best. The authors of this Policy Forum describe changes that are required if we hope to meet the needs and aspirations of humans while improving the health of our planet's ecosystems. Problems as diverse as disease transmission and global climate change have benefited substantially from advances in ecology. Such advances have set the stage for emergence of a proactive ecological science in which social and political realities are acknowledged and attention is turned decisively toward the future. The ecological sciences must chart an understanding of how ecosystem services can persist given their extensive human use. Innovative research on the sciences of ecosystem services, ecological restoration, and ecological design must be massively accelerated and must be accompanied by more effective communication of ecological knowledge to society.