The focus of the great majority of climate change impact studies is on changes in mean climate. In terms of climate model output, these changes are more robust than changes in climate variability. By concentrating on changes in climate means, the full impacts of climate change on biological and human systems are probably being seriously underestimated. Here, we briefly review the possible impacts of changes in climate variability and the frequency of extreme events on biological and food systems, with a focus on the developing world.