Climate change continues to have recognizable impacts across the globe, as weather patterns shift and impacts accumulate and intensify. In this wider context, urban areas face significant challenges as they attempt to mitigate dynamic changes at the local level — changes such as those caused by intensifying weather events, the disruption of critical supplies, and the deterioration of local ecosystems. One field that could help urban areas address these challenges is conservation biology. However, this paper presents the argument that work in urban contexts may be especially difficult for conservation biologists. In light of current climate change predictions, conservation biology may need to abandon some of its core values in favor of commitments guiding urban ecology. More broadly, this essay aims to reconcile the goals of restoration and conservation, by reconceptualizing what an ecosystem is, in the context of a world threatened by global climate change.