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Adaptation to climate change used to be seen as a distraction from the business of cutting carbon emissions. Now, with climate change expected to have unprecedented effects on people worldwide, it can no longer be ignored.

Adaptation will be particularly important in Africa because many residents already live in precarious circumstances.

Villages on the African continent form a 'natural laboratory' in which to observe the ongoing effects of climate change, writes Jim Giles in this Nature article.

But humans have adapted to climate change for millennia, and many communities ― particularly in Africa ― have the knowledge to cope when climatic disasters affect crops, reports Giles.

Communities seem to adapt best when they work together; making changes to agricultural practices, forming social networks and investing in commercial projects such as livestock.

But with wars, poverty and HIV/AIDS to also contend with, Africa still faces an enormous struggle in the face of climate change.

Link to full article in Nature