The global change research community needs to renew its social contract with society by moving beyond a focus on biophysical limits and toward solution-oriented research to provide realistic, context-specific pathways to a sustainable future. A focus on planetary opportunities is based on the premise that societies adapt to change and have historically implemented solutions—for example, to protect watersheds, improve food security, and reduce harmful atmospheric emissions. Daunting social and biophysical challenges for achieving a sustainable future demand that the global change research community work to provide underpinnings for workable solutions at multiple scales of governance. Global change research must reorient itself from a focus on biophysically oriented, global-scale analysis of humanity's negative impact on the Earth system to consider the needs of decisionmakers from household to global scales.
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Vol. 62 • No. 6