It's as if the world's weather has gone crazy. China's worst floods for a decade, torrential downpours that have wreaked unprecedented havoc in Pakistan and a record-beating drought in central Russia have claimed thousands of lives, displaced millions more and destroyed billions of dollars worth of homes and crops. Whether or not the extreme weather is due to climate change, there is a need to adapt to evolving conditions. Global temperatures are rising and weather extremes are becoming more pronounced. Heavy rain and heat waves are more common now than a decade ago. It is impossible to point to a single event such as the Pakistan floods as proof of climate change, but what the world has been experiencing this summer together fit the expectations of scientists and their models. They predict that worse is to come. Much has been made of the problem over the past two decades. High-level summits in Kyoto in 1997 and Copenhagen last year have brokered pacts that hinge on reducing the carbon emissions believed to be the cause of global warming. Disagreement and a lack of willingness to co-operate have created deals among governments that fall far short of what scientists believe is necessary to make a sizeable dent in levels. Those agreements have no impact on the carbon dioxide and other gases that have been emitted since the industrial revolution two centuries ago. Another school of thought contends that climate change is cyclical and global temperatures rise and fall with time. There were weather extremes as bad or worse in the past as now; the heat and drought in the US in the 1930s that created a dustbowl that forced millions of people to relocate is an oft-cited example. Regardless of which theory is right, though, it is clear that there's not a lot we can do about our circumstances. We need to adapt. For people to continue to live beside a beach that is increasingly prone to typhoons or farm in a drought-prone area is a recipe for disaster. No one can say for sure how high temperatures will rise or how extreme weather events will become. Whatever we do to cut carbon emissions is unlikely to have much meaning in our lifetimes. But it makes sense for us to learn to adapt to new weather realities.