Climate Change, Uncertainty, and Advocacy

Publication Type  Conference Presentation
Authors  John Wiens
Affiliations  PRBO Conservation Science
Year  2009
Key Words  Climate change adaptation, uncertainty, advocacy

Environments throughout the world are changing rapidly, driven by the factors underlying climate change and land-use change. To be successful, conservation and environmental management must look toward the future. Models are an effective way to do this, but they are plagued by uncertainties. Despite these uncertainties, the rate of environmental change and the magnitude of the potential impacts require that actions be taken now. Doing this calls for implementing adaptive management, but in an anticipatory rather than a reactive mode. The combination of uncertainty and urgency also threaten to blur the distinction between science and advocacy at a time when clear, objective, and relevant science is desperately needed.


John Wiens grew up in Oklahoma as an avid birdwatcher. Following degrees from the University of Oklahoma and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (M.S., Ph.D.), he joined the faculty of Oregon State University and, subsequently, the University of New Mexico and Colorado State University, where he was a Professor of Ecology and University Distinguished Professor. His work has emphasized landscape ecology and the ecology of birds, leading to over 200 scientific papers and 7 books.

John left academia in 2002 to join The Nature Conservancy as Lead Scientist, with the challenge of putting years of classroom teaching and research into conservation practice in the real world. In 2008, he joined PRBO Conservation Science as Chief Conservation Science Officer. His aim is to build on the long-standing work of PRBO on bird populations to address conservation in a rapidly changing world – “conservation futures.” Climate change is affecting species distributions, economic globalization is altering land uses, and demands for the goods and services provided by nature are changing how people relate to nature. John is working with PRBO staff and partners to develop guidance for assessing the impacts of these changes and how management practices can help natural systems adapt.

Conference Name  2009 State of the Laguna Conference and Science Symposium
Presentation Type: 
Wiens_Keynote_Wednesday.pdf3.41 MB